Today marks Compound Interest’s fourth birthday, so it seems fitting to choose today to reflect back on the posts on the site through the past year. This year even more chemistry has been added to the catalogue of topics covered by the graphics on the site, including the coke and mentos reaction, the opioid epidemic, and what ice cores can tell us about climate! 

In the aftermath of the many fireworks displays to see in 2017, we started the year by looking at the environmental effects of fireworks (below). This might not be at the forefront of your mind as you watch this year’s celebrations, but it’s an ongoing challenge for chemists to try and find chemical alternatives that avoid these effects.

Fireworks – The Chemistry of their Environmental Effects

Click to enlarge

This post presaged several others later in the year which also examined the impact of certain chemicals on the environment. A post in January considered carbon dioxide’s ability to cause ocean acidification (below). Other topics included the environmental concerns surrounding compounds used in air conditioning and dry cleaning.

Carbon Dioxide and Ocean Acidification

Click to enlarge

Both of the previously mentioned graphics appeared in Chemical and Engineering News, the magazine of the American Chemical Society. I’ve continued to make monthly graphics for C&EN this year. Some of my favourite topics covered as part of this series have included whether anti-aging creams really work (below) and the chemistry of various frozen desserts. There are more plans in the pipeline for further collaborations with C&EN in the new year!

C&EN - Anti-Wrinkle Cream Chemistry

Click to enlarge

A project of my own, Chemunicate, went from strength to strength this year. Chemunicate is a side project where I work with researchers to communicate their research in graphic form. This year topics covered included designing nanoparticles to combat disease, combatting cancer chemoresistance, and new insights into the coke and mentos reaction (below). I had less time for this side project in the second half of the year due to other commitments, but it’ll be back in 2018.

The Secrets of the Coke and Mentos Fountain

Click to enlarge

In April, the March for Science rallies took place in over 600 cities across the world. In line with the theme of celebrating science and the role it plays in our everyday lives, I created a graphic on some of the advances that chemistry has made possible (below). Other science news events that inspired graphics on the site included the EU fipronil egg scandal and concerns about acrylamide in certain foods.

March for Science 2017 – What's Chemistry Ever Done For Us-

Click to enlarge

‘This Week in Chemistry’ also continued to highlight developments in chemistry news. This series was discontinued at the end of November; a monthly round-up will replace it.

There were a number of reasons for this decision. The main one was that I want to have more time to produce other content for the site, and ‘This Week in Chemistry’ was impacting on that. As well as the monthly updates, I will be posting news story updates on the Chemunicate Twitter and Facebook pages. Hopefully, this change will give me a bit more time to create other cool content!

Sticking with news, for the past few years I’ve posted graphics summarising the science awarded Nobel Prizes. This year’s chemistry prize (below) was awarded to a technique that allows 3D images of biomolecules to be generated in cases where this was previously not possible. There were also summary graphics for the physiology or medicine and physics prizes.

2017 Nobel Prize Chemistry

Click to enlare

In July, I was lucky enough to be invited to speak at the 2017 ChemEd conference in South Dakota. It was great to meet a whole bunch of chemistry teachers stateside who’d I’d previously only ‘met’ on Twitter, and I came away with some really useful insights from the sessions I attended. The highlight of the trip was a visit to South Dakota’s ice core lab. This spawned a graphic looking at how ice cores can tell us more about the climate of the past (below). 

Ice Cores and Atmospheric History

Click to enlarge

September saw the publication of a book that I was a part of putting together back in October 2016. The Secret Science of Superheroes was put together as part of a ‘book sprint’ over a single weekend, with a host of science communicators contributing chapters on different aspects of superhero science. I had the comparatively easier task of making graphics for some of the chapters! It might be too late for you to order it as a Christmas present, but you could always make it your first read of 2018…

While we’re on the Christmas theme, the Chemistry Advent Calendar has again been running this year. There’s still just about time to catch up on the posts if you’d missed it so far! If you’ve any suggestions for next year’s calendar, feel free to throw them my way. I feel like we’ve pretty much exhausted festive chemistry at this point, but I’m sure there are other ideas out there!

My involvement with #RealTimeChem week continued this October of this year. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to create any posts for this year’s ‘Chem Together’ theme. However, I did help make the logo and promotional images, and it was brilliant to see the tweets of many chemists on many different topics throughout the week. Currently there’s a vote on for the #RealTimeChemist of the Year – you’ll have to be quick though as the deadline for nominations is the 22nd of December!

I’ll finish up with some of my other favourite graphics from this year which have escaped mention so far. These included a look at making silver mirrors using chemistry, how to make an indicator using red cabbage (below), and the chemical processes that form ammonite fossils.

Making a Red Cabbage pH Indicator

Click to enlarge

There’s still plenty of chemistry left uncovered on the site, so expect plenty more graphics next year! In the meantime, a big thanks to everyone following the site and giving me the motivation to continue making the graphics. Hope you all have a good holiday period and a happy new year!


The graphics in this article are (unless otherwise noted) licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. See the site’s content usage guidelines.