Monosodium glutamate, or MSG for short, has long been the villain of the food supplement world. In the UK, Chinese takeaways proudly display ‘No MSG’ signs beside their counters, and many websites will purport to tell you ‘the truth about MSG’. Numerous studies have been carried out examining the effects of MSG, but with all the conflicting information, it can be hard for consumers to know who to believe. Read More
Honey is something of an oddity, in that, unlike most foods, it doesn’t spoil over time. In fact, the oldest known sample of honey, found in an Ancient Egyptian tomb and dated to approximately 3000 years ago, was still perfectly edible. What is it, then, that gives honey this unusual property?
Lipstick is one of the most commonly used cosmetic products – and a range of chemicals are required for its production. The choice of these ingredients is carefully considered to provide the desired colour, glossiness, and indelibility. A single stick of lipstick will contain several hundred different chemical compounds, but there are a few substances and compounds whose inclusion is essential.
With the new season of the Premier League kicking off this weekend, it seemed a good time to take a look at the chemicals that make up your average football shirt. Even if the start of a new football season isn’t the kind of event to fill you with excitement, it’s still intriguing from a chemistry perspective to examine the different chemical materials used and the properties that they lend the finished shirt.
The human fear of sharks is an age old one. Even though your odds of being killed by a shark are estimated to be approximately 1 in 3.7 million, versus a 1 in 218 chance of simply dying from a fall, the fear persists, and over the years many chemists have turned their attentions to trying to find an effective chemical shark repellent – with somewhat mixed results.
We’re all well versed in the dangers of spending too much time in the sun. A golden tan after a few weeks away in the sun is everyone’s aspiration, but no-one wants to come back from a holiday red as a cooked lobster, hence the need for sunscreen (which we looked at in a previous post). However, if you’re unlucky enough not to have the time for a couple of weeks on the beach, you might be tempted to resort to tanning lotions to achieve a tanned look. These can induce the appearance of a tan, through the action of the chemicals they contain.
Anyone who’s ever purchased an avocado will testify that, after taking several days to reach the point of perfect ripeness, they remain at that point for an incredibly short amount of time before morphing into a brown, sludgy mess. As if to confound this problem, if you do catch them at the optimum ripeness, they turn brown incredibly quickly after being cut open if not eaten straight away. As always, there are chemical processes at work that are to blame for this occurrence. Read More
We’ve already examined the functional groups that can be present in organic molecules in a previous post; here, we take a look one step further, at heterocycles. Heterocycles are hugely important in organic chemistry – they make up more than half of all known organic compounds. Caffeine is a prime example of an everyday chemical that is composed of heterocycles, as is nicotine, and there are plenty of others in pharmaceuticals and natural products we use on a natural basis. Parts of our DNA are even made up of compounds which contain heterocycles.
Today’s graphic is a whimsical look at lethal doses of chemicals we consume on a regular basis. Whilst it may be more common to view chemicals in a black and white framing of ‘toxic’ or ‘non-toxic’, the reality is more of a sliding scale of toxicity. The admission of too much of any chemical into the body can cause toxic effects, and even death – the only variant from chemical to chemical is how much is ‘too much’. For some chemicals, the amount will be very low, whilst for others, it may be almost impossibly high.
We’re heading out of this world for today’s post, to examine the atmospheric compositions of the other planets in the solar system, as well as our own. Practically every other planet in our solar system can be considered to have an atmosphere, apart from perhaps the extremely thin, transient atmosphere of Mercury, with the compositions varying from planet to planet. Different conditions on different planets can also give rise to particular effects.