• The chemistry of condoms

The chemistry of condom materials – from sheep guts to synthetic rubber

By |August 10th, 2018|

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Today, we take contraception for granted to a certain extent. It’s easy to forget that, less than 200 years ago, the only condom available was one made from a length of sheep gut that you had to wash and re-use. Today, they’re made from a handful of different materials. This post looks at their recent material history, and some of the other chemistry modern condoms utilise.


  • 08-07 – Germain Henri Hess's Birthday

Today in chemistry history: Germain Hess, Hess’s Law, and enthalpy changes

By |August 7th, 2018|

On this day back in 1802, Germain Hess was born in Switzerland. Hess would go on to do important work in the field of thermochemistry, the part of chemistry concerned with energy changes in chemical reactions. His work led to the eponymous Hess’s law, explained in the graphic above. Hess also analysed the mineral silver telluride, which was named Hessite in his honour.  […]

  • 008 ChemMonthly July 2018

#ChemMonthly July 2018: Water on Mars, crisp packet recycling, and textbook mechanism errors

By |August 3rd, 2018|

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Here’s the monthly summary of chemistry stories that have hit the news. This month features news on a water lake underneath the ice cap of Mars, how mass spectrometry can help spot poetry forgeries, the identification of a key protein in body odour production, and more! Larger summary images for each item are provided below, along with links to articles and studies for all the featured stories. […]

  • The science of thunderstorms

The science of thunderstorms – thunder, lightning, and chemical reactions

By |July 31st, 2018|

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Here in the UK, a completely un-British heatwave finally came to a thundery end last weekend. Having already looked at the chemistry behind the smell of rain, here’s a look at some of the science behind thunderstorms. How does lightning happen, what gives it its blue-violet tinge, and what does it have to do with plant growth?


  • C&EN – Volcanoes preview

Volcanic eruptions: the chemistry of lava and volcanic gases

By |July 25th, 2018|

Click to view full graphic on the C&EN site

Volcanic eruptions can be unpredictable and destructive. In the latest edition of Periodic Graphics in Chemical and Engineering News, we investigate the types of lava produced in volcanoes and the gases ejected during eruptions. Click here to view the full graphic on the C&EN site.


  • The chemistry of spinach

The chemistry of spinach: the iron myth and ‘spinach teeth’

By |July 17th, 2018|

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“Spinach is a good source of iron” – a myth, but a surprisingly persistent one. The story behind the myth and the chemistry that debunks it are fascinating. Here we look at both, as well as the chemical explanation behind the ‘spinach teeth’ phenomenon.


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