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.
It’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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
After a positive reception for the first ‘This Week in Chemistry’ post last weekend, here’s a brief overview of what’s been going on in the world of chemistry this week, including cyanide clouds on Saturn’s moon Titan, the world’s smallest microphone, and how caffeine could help the development of drugs to aid Parkinson’s Disease. Links to articles and studies on each of the featured stories are given below for further detail.
You may have previously come across the advice that tomatoes shouldn’t be refrigerated, but should be stored at room temperature, in order to maximise their flavour. To understand the reasoning behind this, we need to take a look at the chemical compounds that give tomatoes their flavour, and the effect that refrigeration has on the production of these.
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.