It’s been a while since the last update to the Everyday Compounds series – this latest graphic looks at hydrogen peroxide. Everyone’s familiar with the term ‘peroxide blonde’, stemming from the use of hydrogen peroxide in hair dyes, but this accounts for just one of the compound’s many uses; it’s also found in several other products you come across on a regular basis, and even in some rocket fuels.
Trialling a new potential feature on the site today, with the first ‘This Week In Chemistry’ post. You’ve probably spotted the various ‘This Week In Science’ posts that crop up elsewhere online – I thought it’d be nice to have one of those, but specifically for chemistry! Links to both articles and studies on the featured stories are given below, along with a few stories that didn’t quite make the graphic.
Following on from the previous post on antibiotics, it seemed logical to also take a look at the drugs we take to relieve pain. Painkilling drugs, or analgesics, come in a number of forms, but fall broadly into two main classes: non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and opioids. This graphic takes a look at a selection of common painkillers, their common brand names, and how they work. The mechanism of action is in many cases not fully understood, but we have a broad idea of how the two classes exert their effects.
If you’ve ever tried your hand at jam-making, you’ll know that it’s something of a tricky process. A number of factors need to be just right to achieve a perfectly set jam – and chemistry can help explain why. There are three key chemical entities that go into jam-making: sugar, pectin, and acids. Here, we’ll look at each in turn, and how they help jam achieve its eventual consistency.
Raspberries, like all fruits, contain a complex mix of organic compounds. Unlike many fruits, however, raspberries have the less common distinction of lending their name to the compound that is a major contributor to their aroma – and one of the compounds that contributes to their flavour has also been detected in the centre of our galaxy. So, does the centre of the galaxy taste faintly of raspberries?
The proteins that make up living organisms are huge molecules, but they’re composed of tinier building blocks, known as amino acids. There are over 500 amino acids found in nature, yet, of these, the human genetic code only directly codes for 20. Every protein in your body is made up of some linked combination of these amino acids – this graphic shows the structure of each, as well as giving a little information on the notation used to represent them.
With autumn looming on the horizon, the leaves on some trees have already begun the transition towards the vibrant hues of autumn. Whilst this change may outwardly seem like a simple one, the many vivid colours are a result of a range of chemical compounds, a selection of which are detailed here.
When we’re suffering from a bacterial infection, a trip to the doctors to be prescribed antibiotics is commonplace. However, there are a wide range of antibiotics available, and they vary both in their usage and their mechanism of action. This graphic summarises the major classes, and also gives a brief insight into the manner in which they combat bacterial infections; we’ll also consider each of the groups in turn, as well as bacterial resistance to each.
Tooth decay, also commonly referred to as dental caries, is the result of acidic conditions in the mouth, due to bacterial activity. These conditions lead to the outer layers of the teeth slowly being dissolved, which can eventually lead to holes in the teeth (cavities) in serious cases. To combat this, xylitol gum has been suggested as a potential preventative measure – but is this backed up by scientific research?
Benzene is a hugely important compound in organic chemistry. It consists of six carbon atoms joined together in a ring, with a hydrogen atom bonded to each carbon; by replacing one or more of these hydrogens with a functional group, a large number of different compounds can be formed. This graphic looks at a selection of the most common simple derivatives which can be obtained in this manner.