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EXPLORATIONS OF EVERYDAY CHEMICAL COMPOUNDS

The Chemistry of the Odour of Decomposition

10/30/2014
Chemistry of Decomposition

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Continuing this week’s Halloween theme, today we’re looking at death – more specifically, the chemical agents behind the smell of it. Decomposition is an incredibly complicated process, but we do know a little about the chemical culprits behind some of the terrible smells as the body breaks down – so, what compounds are the must-haves this season for your run of the mill decomposing zombie?

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The Chemistry of The Colours of Blood

10/28/2014
Chemistry of Blood Colours

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Halloween’s almost here, which, for a large number of costumes, will require a liberal dousing of fake blood to complete the look. You probably already have a pretty good idea of the reasons behind the red colouration of human blood that fake blood mimics. However, red is not the only blood colour available – it also comes in blue, green, violet, and even colourless varieties – and this is a result of the specific chemicals that make up blood in different organisms.

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This Week in Chemistry: Eau De Comet, Tarantula Toxins, & an Iridium +9 Compound

10/26/2014

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Another week, another batch of chemistry research news to sink your teeth into. This week sees tarantula toxins utilised to help visualise electrical activity in cells, the potential aroma of molecules detected on Comet 67P, and the first experimental evidence for a molecule containing an element in the +9 oxidation state. Links to more detailed articles and the studies themselves are provided below.

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Mole Day – Avogadro & The Mole

10/23/2014
Avogadro & The Mole

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Today, 23rd October, is Mole Day – which might put you in mind of small, furry, burrowing animals. However, they don’t even seem to have a commemorative day of any kind; we’re actually talking about the mole in chemistry, a quantity that essentially allows us to ‘count’ atoms and molecules in a more convenient way. This is a fundamental concept, and one that all chemists utilise.

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National Chemistry Week: The Chemistry of Candy

10/21/2014

The Chemistry of CandyIt’s currently National Chemistry Week in the US (apparently, we only get National Chemistry Week once every two years here in the UK), and the theme for this year is ‘The Sweet Side of Chemistry’. This seemed like as good an opportunity as any to look at some confectionary chemistry! In this graphic, we look at the amazing versatility of sucrose, and how (combined with other ingredients) it can make candies as hard as lollipops, or as soft as fudge.

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This Week in Chemistry: Improving Autism Symptoms, & Making Batteries Safer

10/19/2014

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It’s been another bumper week in the world of chemistry research, with a range of stories to choose from for this week’s graphic. Highlights include the discovery that a compound found in broccoli could help improve behaviour in autism, and a new detection method for metal contamination in water using DNA. As always, links to studies (and articles, when available) are supplied below, as well as a range of stories that didn’t fit into the graphic.

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Crime Scene Chemistry – Luminol, Blood & Horseradish

10/17/2014
CSI Chemistry - Luminol

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Anyone who’s watched CSI or similar shows knows that, whenever the investigating team are on the scene of a gruesome and bloody murder, luminol solution gets sprayed liberally over absolutely everything. The result is a pale blue luminescence whenever the solution meets blood, which itself is a consequence of a chemical reaction that the blood gives a helping hand to. Here, we look at this reaction – and what horseradish has to do with it.

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The Chemistry of Glow Sticks

10/14/2014
Chemistry of Glow Stick Colours v2.1

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Everyone’s familiar with glow sticks, but it’s likely that fewer are familiar with the chemistry behind their glow. You may have wondered what happens when you snap a glow stick to activate it; by doing this, you’re actually kicking off a chemical process that eventually leads to the production of the coloured light. But how does this process work, and why do you need to bend the glow stick to initiate it?

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This Week in Chemistry: The Chemistry Nobel & Writing in Gold in Cells

10/12/2014

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This week, the award of the Nobel prizes, including the Nobel prize in chemistry, has dominated the headlines. However, there’ve been a range of other interesting stories too, including researchers succeeding in writing gold characters inside cells, and the development of a green tea-based anti-cancer drug delivery system. Links to articles and original research papers are provided below, along with a few other notable mentions that didn’t make the graphic.

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Chemical Warfare – The Chemistry of Nerve Agents (Part I)

10/07/2014
Chemical Warfare - Nerve Agents Pt 1 v2

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Today’s graphic looks again at the darker side of chemistry, after the previous post on the various chemical agents used in World War 1. The present day spectre of chemical warfare is largely concerned with nerve agents, which come in two main groups; today’s post examines the G series of nerve gases, including sarin, which has made the news in the past year following its use on civilians in Syria.

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