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EXPLORATIONS OF EVERYDAY CHEMICAL COMPOUNDS

This Week in Chemistry – Plastic-Eating Worms, & Inhibiting a Cancer Enzyme

11/23/2014

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Here’s this week’s summary of the research making the news in chemistry, including worms that could break down polyethene, a new method for synthesising natural chemicals, and a new silicon allotrope that could help produce more efficient solar cells. As always, links to more detailed articles, and the relevant research papers, are provided below.

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The Chemistry of Matches

11/20/2014
The chemistry of matches

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After fielding questions from students about what chemicals are in matches this week, it seemed like a good topic for a post looking at the question in more detail. When using matches on a day-to-day basis, you probably don’t think much of the chemical composition, or the reactions that are being set off; this graphic takes a look at some of the chemicals you can find in your average safety match, and the role they play.

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Trial Drugs for Treatment of the Ebola Virus

11/18/2014
Trial Drugs for Ebola

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The current ebola virus epidemic in West Africa has dominated the news in recent months, and in the past week, several medical organisations have announced their intention to commence trials with possible treatments for the virus in the coming months. Two of these treatments are the anti-viral drugs brincidofovir and favipiravir, chosen due to some promising data on their potential efficacy against the virus, as well as their non-prohibitive costs. Here, we take a look at them in a little more detail.

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This Week in Chemistry – The Smell of Blood, & Ebola Treatment Trials

11/16/2014

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Here’s another edition of the ‘This Week in Chemistry’ feature, providing updates on the latest chemical research, as well as summarising the chemistry stories that have made the news in the past week. The past seven days have seen the chemical behind the metallic odour that lures carnivores to blood identified, as well as the production of the first of a new class of polymers. As always, links to further articles and research papers are available below. Read More

VSEPR & Shapes of Molecules

11/13/2014
VSEPR & Shapes of Molecules

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One for the chemistry students (and teachers!) out there today, with a look at how we can work out the shapes of some simple molecules using Valence Shell Electron Pair Repulsion (VSEPR) theory. These shapes are decided by the arrangement of electrons around the central atom in the molecule.

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A Brief Summary of Inhalational Anaesthetics

11/10/2014
A Brief Guide to Inhalational Anaesthetics

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If you’ve ever needed a tooth out, or had surgery of any kind, chances are you’ll have experienced use of an inhalational anaesthetic. All of the compounds shown above can induce general anaesthesia, and a range have been utilised since the initial discovery of nitrous oxide in the mid-1800s. Often, intravenous drugs will be used for induction of anaesthesia, but inhalational agents may then be used to maintain this – this graphic looks at how the drugs in use for this purpose have varied over the years.

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This Week in Chemistry – Battery Armour & Removing Fracking Contaminants

11/09/2014

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This week in chemistry has seen an ‘armoured’ battery developed, which could help reduce injury in cases where children accidentally swallow them, as well as a new method for producing aromatic chemicals from lignin. Links to more detailed articles on all of the featured stories are provided below, along with links to the original studies.

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The Chemistry of Sparklers

11/04/2014
The Chemistry of Sparklers

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It’s Fireworks Night here in the UK tomorrow, which means fireworks (obviously), bonfires and sparklers. We’ve looked at fireworks in a previous post, so this time around it’s time to take a look at the chemicals that go into producing sparklers, and their various roles.

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This Week in Chemistry – Memory-Boosting Cocoa Compounds & More

11/02/2014

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This week in chemistry has tested the format of this graphic, with a wealth of studies to choose from for the featured stories; as a result, the notable mentions section below is bulging! Stories this week include the discovery that large amounts of compounds found in cocoa beans could help improve memory, as well as research that could help advance our understanding of the origin of life. Links to articles (when available) and original research papers are provided below.

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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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