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Biochemistry Organic Chemistry

A Brief Guide to the Twenty Common Amino Acids

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 […]

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Biochemistry Colourful Chemistry

The Chemicals Behind the Colours of Autumn Leaves

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.

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Organic Chemistry

Benzene Derivatives in Organic Chemistry

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 […]

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Chemical Concerns Undeserved Reputations

Monosodium Glutamate – An Undeserved Reputation?

Monosodium glutamate, or MSG for short, has long been the villain of the food supplement world. In the UK, Chinese takeaways proudly display ‘No MSG’ signs beside their counters, and many websites will purport to tell you ‘the truth about MSG’. Numerous studies have been carried out examining the effects of MSG, but with all […]

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Miscellaneous Graphics

Shark Week Special: A Brief History of Chemical Shark Repellents

The human fear of sharks is an age old one. Even though your odds of being killed by a shark are estimated to be approximately 1 in 3.7 million, versus a 1 in 218 chance of simply dying from a fall, the fear persists, and over the years many chemists have turned their attentions to […]

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Organic Chemistry

A Guide to Simple Heterocycles in Organic Chemistry

We’ve already examined the functional groups that can be present in organic molecules in a previous post; here, we take a look one step further, at heterocycles. Heterocycles are hugely important in organic chemistry – they make up more than half of all known organic compounds. Caffeine is a prime example of an everyday chemical that […]