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Materials Chemistry

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

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 […]

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Chemistry History

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

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 […]

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ChemMonthly

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

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, […]

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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 […]

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Geochemistry

Volcanic eruptions: the chemistry of lava and volcanic gases

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.

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Inorganic Chemistry Materials Chemistry

The Chemistry of Matches

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 […]