Atmospheric Chemistry

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

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 […]

Nobel Prizes

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics: Detecting gravitational waves from black hole collisions

This year’s second Nobel Prize in the sciences was awarded today. The prize for physics was awarded to researchers who contributed to the observation of gravitational waves, ripples in space-time that were originally created by colliding black holes over a billion years ago. 

Chemunicate Physical Chemistry

The Secrets of the Coke and Mentos Fountain

It’s one of the most popular science demonstrations: Pop a handful of Mentos candies into a bottle of Coke, and a fountain of bubbles rapidly spurts from the open bottle, often over a metre into the air. Originally the explanation for the effect was thought to be quite simple. However, scientists are finding that there’s more […]

Chemistry History Physical Chemistry

Today in Chemistry History – Ernest Rutherford’s Birthday

Today, 30 August, marks the birthday of Ernest Rutherford. Rutherford is primarily considered a physicist, but his contribution to our understanding of the atom is also important to chemistry. He was also a chemistry Nobel Prize winner, for his work on radioactivity. This graphic looks in detail at one of his most famous experiments, the […]

Physical Chemistry

30 Years Since Chernobyl – How Nuclear Reactors Work

Early in the morning on 26 April 1986, a safety system test at the Chernobyl power plant in Pripyat, now part of Northern Ukraine, ended in a nuclear disaster with catastrophic consequences for both those working at the plant and those living in the surrounding area. The narrative seems to be a classic cautionary tale […]

Chemistry in the News

The Periodic Table’s Four New Elements

If you take even the slightest interest in chemistry news, you’ll probably already have heard about the official confirmation of the discovery of four new elements, which even achieved widespread coverage in mainstream news outlets. IUPAC (the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) sneaked out the news just before New Year’s Eve without much prior […]