In the puzzle community (especially speedsolving) I think that the issue of using lubricants with the label "contains petroleum distillates" has become the argument that never dies. Having seen both sides of the argument, I wanted to get down to the science of it.
I know that a number of members of the TP forum are familiar with the International Baccalaureate (IB) program for high schools. As a requirement to receive this special diploma, candidates are require to write an "Extended Essay" in addition to the academic and service requirements. This essay can be written on just about any academic subject one could find on a college campus. Getting back to the puzzle connection, I decided to go into the Chemistry category to look at the chemical background of the interaction of petroleum distillates and the ABS plastic that most mass-produced puzzles are made of.
When writing an Extended Essay in any of the natural sciences categories, an experiment must also be conducted and referred to in the essay. The link below is the final draft of my extended essay (with an abstract if you'd like to save valuable time) and I hope you can all enjoy it. It should shed some new light on the whole puzzle lubricant issue.Petroleum Distillates in Lubricant + ABS
Post-read: I also think it would be interesting to conduct a similar experiment with the various Shapeways materials since they are much different than ABS and I've heard they absorb lubricant like none other.
Let me know what you think!