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Everyday exploration of chemical compounds

Compound Interest makes infographics [index] covering chemistry basics and the chemistry behind every day phenomena, like the aroma of books, cilantro, and cell phones. In time for the 4th of July, the chemistry behind fireworks: gunpowder and color. Over on tumblr, Compound Interest answers questions about chemistry, dispels myths (glowsticks, MSG), promotes science (bad science, the dose makes the poison ) and other... things. Compound Interest has also teamed up with the American Chemical Society to make videos (why does bacon smell so good?). [more inside]
posted by bobobox on Jul 3, 2014 - 8 comments

Dramatic Safety Videos from the US Chemical Safety Board

The United States Chemical Safety Board and Hazard Investigation Board, an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that investigates the cause of chemical accidents (About the CSB Video (14 minutes), website) has released a well-made animated video (11 minutes) detailing the root cause of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in conjunction with a two-volume draft report about the disaster. This is just the latest in a series of informative and fascinating safety videos released by the CSB. [more inside]
posted by Small Dollar on Jun 6, 2014 - 18 comments

Alexander Shulgin: Godfather of psychedelics has died (1925-2014)

Alexander Shulgin has died at 88. Infamous for TIHKAL and PIHKAL, chemistry manuals for psychonauts, the chemist pioneered psychedelic research primarily through self-experimentation. He is survived by his wife Ann.
posted by bodywithoutorgans on Jun 2, 2014 - 75 comments

The Platinum Club

As part of the ongoing Periodic Video series (previously and more previously), Martyn Poliakoff takes us inside Johnson Matthey, where he shows us some "Super Expensive Metals" — a few of the rare platinum group metals — as they are refined and processed from raw ore into finished products.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Apr 11, 2014 - 11 comments

John Baez on the maths of connecting everyone (and everything) on earth

Network Theory Overview - "The idea: nature and the world of human technology are full of networks! People like to draw diagrams of networks. Mathematical physicists know that in principle these diagrams can be understood using category theory. But why should physicists have all the fun? This is the century of understanding living systems and adapting to life on a finite planet. Math isn't the main thing we need, but it's got to be part of the solution... so one thing we should do is develop a unified and powerful theory of networks." (via ;)
posted by kliuless on Mar 2, 2014 - 17 comments

And here's how it looks if you combine mercury thiocyanate and fire

Animated gifs of high energy chemical reactions.
posted by Chrysostom on Dec 12, 2013 - 17 comments

Are you alive? If so, can you define what that means?

Why Life Does Not Really Exist
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Dec 7, 2013 - 85 comments

Happy Mole Day 2013

Today (10-23) from 06:02am to 06:02pm chemists and other science enthusiasts around the world celebrate the mole! [more inside]
posted by Captain_Science on Oct 23, 2013 - 36 comments

Does it turn into energy? Does it go into the toilet?

In a TEDx talk from Queensland University of Technology, Ruben Meerman asks and answers a question many everyday people seem not to know the answer to: When you lose fat, where does it go? [more inside]
posted by ocherdraco on Oct 3, 2013 - 101 comments

The Leidenfrost Maze

When a liquid is dropped onto a smooth plate that is heated to a specific temperature well above its boiling point, boiled vapor will get trapped underneath the remainder of the droplet insulating it from the hot plate, allowing it to dance around the plate like oil on a wet surface in what is known as the Leidenfrost effect. Intriguingly, surfaces that are grooved into the shape of a saw blade will cause droplets suspended by the Leidenfrost effect to predictably skitter in the direction of the groove, allowing University of Bath undergraduate students Carmen Cheng and Matthew Guy to build a fascinating maze. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Oct 2, 2013 - 32 comments

This ain't chemistry. This is Art.

With the momentous series finale of Breaking Bad just hours away, fans of the show are hungry for something, anything to wile away the time before the epic conclusion tonight. So why not kick back and chew the fat with your fellow MeFites with the help of a little tool I like to call "The Periodic Table of Breaking Bad." [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Sep 29, 2013 - 974 comments

A Real Unbreakable Comb?

Chemists at Duke University have developed a new plastic that becomes stronger with mechanical stress. [more inside]
posted by double block and bleed on Sep 3, 2013 - 54 comments

The Woman Behind Walter White

Dr. Donna Nelson is the science advisor for Breaking Bad. After reading an interview where show creator Vince Gilligan said no one on the show's staff had a scientific background, she reached out to the Breaking Bad creator. The rest is history.
posted by reenum on Aug 29, 2013 - 33 comments

PORCELAINia

PORCELAINia. A short documentary about artist and scientist Bobby Jaber. [Via]
posted by homunculus on Aug 4, 2013 - 5 comments

A Little Chemical Education

An article entitled '8 Foods We Eat In The U.S. That Are Banned In Other Countries,' purporting to expose the rampant toxicity of American processed foods, was posted on Buzzfeed. Here's a response from research chemist Derek Lowe (of Things I Won't Work With fame, previously).
posted by showbiz_liz on Jun 27, 2013 - 180 comments

The number of constituent particles in one mole of a given substance.

Avogadro Project - The International Avogadro project relates the kilogram to the mass of a fixed number of atoms by measuring the number of atoms in a sphere of silicon. I'll leave this here.
posted by hypersloth on Jun 8, 2013 - 26 comments

A Very Secret Garden

Harvard chemists induce microscopic crystal "flowers" to grow on the edge of a razor blade with beautiful results.
posted by quin on May 30, 2013 - 9 comments

That's funny, Joey, I don't smell anything

"The memory is stil with me - the most sickly and sweetish smell of rancid gasoline combined with rotten water melons, with undertones of stale sweat, pig carcass, a hint of garlic, moldy oranges, russian-made aftershave and a cheap household air freshener… its a whole package, and rather sweet one – like isonitriles or cyclopentadiene but magnified thousand times. A whiff of that thing and you feel that your nose just suffered a stroke and will hopefully die and peal off so that you never smell that thing again." A young lab tech, whose absent-mindedness in the lab gets him nicknamed "“Bořivoj” (”the one who tears down the places”), meets PhePHMe, the worst-smelling compound in the world. Things happen.
posted by escabeche on May 9, 2013 - 36 comments

"it was even thicker than planned, for a brief exciting interlude"

How Not To Do It: Chromium Trioxide
Back in grad school, I had an undergraduate assistant one summer, a guy who was pretty green. I'll refer to him by an altered form of his nickname, henceforth as Toxic Jim. I shouldn't be too hard on him, I guess: I was a summer undergrad in my time, too, and I wasn't a lot of help to anyone, either. But TJ did manage to furnish me with some of my more vivid lab stories in his brief time in my fume hood. One morning I showed him how to make PCC. That's pyridinium chlorochromate for the non-organic chemists out there, an oxidizing agent that doesn't seem to be used as much as it was 15 or 20 years ago. Even in '85, you could buy it, but the freshly-made stuff was often better. It certainly looked nicer. Like all the Cr(VI) salts, it has a vivid color, in this case a flaming orange. I shouldn't say "flaming;" that's getting ahead of the story. . .

posted by the man of twists and turns on Mar 23, 2013 - 30 comments

Those Atoms are Mighty Fuzzy

16 Golden Retrievers teach all about atoms. SYTL I for one would have probably done much better in chemistry if had been explained this way.
posted by Leezie on Mar 8, 2013 - 26 comments

An Elegant Weapon For A Less Civilized Age

They were the finest European swords the day, superior to almost any other on the battlefields of the Viking Age. Made from steel no one in Europe would know how to make until the Industrial Revolution. Stronger, more flexible, almost magical in combat, engraved with the mysterious name "+ULFBERH+T" by unknown makers, these swords were the both fearsome weapons and incredibly expensive prestige possessions. Only 171 have every been identified. And no one had made one from start to finish, using only hand tools, for over 900 years. [more inside]
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey on Mar 6, 2013 - 38 comments

Pepto Bismuth

The chemical process of isolating bismuth metal from Pepto Bismol.
posted by dhruva on Mar 3, 2013 - 51 comments

Sense About Science

With a database of over 5,000 scientists, from Nobel prize winners to postdocs and PhD students, Sense About Science works in partnership with scientific bodies, research publishers, policy makers, the public and the media, to change public discussions about science and evidence. They make these scientists available for questions from civic organizations and the public looking for scientific advice from experts, campaign for the promotion of scientific principles in public policy, and publish neat guides to understanding science intended for laypeople. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Feb 28, 2013 - 9 comments

Culinary Tech

Polyscience is a company at the cutting edge of culinary technology. [Previously]
posted by lemuring on Feb 26, 2013 - 20 comments

"...it's always good for a scientist to be proven wrong..."

Professor Martyn Poliakoff of Periodic Table Videos fame learns something about burning balloons full of hydrogen via high speed camera footage.
posted by loquacious on Jan 11, 2013 - 34 comments

Operation Delirium

Operation Delirium. "The military’s secret Cold War experiment to fight enemies with clouds of psychochemicals. Decades after a risky Cold War experiment, a scientist lives with secrets." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Dec 10, 2012 - 44 comments

"This post, dear reader, is 100% about cats."

Screw organic chemistry, I'm just going to write about cats. James Ashenhurst uses (sometimes highly unorthodox!) cat pictures to explain topics in stereocatmistry, starting with On Cats, Part 1: Conformations and Configurations. [more inside]
posted by beryllium on Dec 5, 2012 - 43 comments

The rain in Spain smells mainly of dimethyl-9-decalol

The smell of earth after rain is called Petrichor, and it is caused by Geosmin, a sesquiterpenoid metabolite with the chemical formula C12H22O. Human sensitivity to geosmin is about 10 parts per trillion. (via)
posted by mrgrimm on Nov 28, 2012 - 95 comments

Could I interest you in dessert?

Chef Grant Achatz plates the final dessert course at Alinea. Or perhaps you'd prefer the chocolate pumpkin pie or the edible balloon? Bon appetit!
posted by madamjujujive on Nov 26, 2012 - 51 comments

What's gonna happen outside the window next?

Noam Chomsky on Where Artificial Intelligence Went Wrong
posted by cthuljew on Nov 18, 2012 - 55 comments

The Chem Coach Carnival

What do chemists do in a "work day"? What kind of schooling do they have? How does chemistry inform their work? Do chemists have any funny stories to tell? [more inside]
posted by Orange Pamplemousse on Oct 31, 2012 - 17 comments

2H2O2 → 2H2O(l) + O2(g)

What do you get when you mix hydrogen peroxide, iodine and dishsoap? Elephant's Toothpaste (or Elefantenzahnpasta, if you prefer German). Many more class experiments from the 2nd link here. [more inside]
posted by growabrain on Oct 26, 2012 - 26 comments

Recommended laboratory procedures

Thousands of drug-related convictions in Massachusetts may be challenged as investigators learn more about improper evidence handling and testing at a Department of Public Health laboratory. Over 50,000 samples related to 34,000 convictions were tested by a single chemist at the lab, who is alleged to have violated multiple laboratory protocols. Governor Deval Patrick's office has identified 1,141 inmates currently serving time in Massachusetts whose convictions may be affected by the investigation. [more inside]
posted by catlet on Sep 25, 2012 - 35 comments

Ben Krasnow builds neat things.

Ben Krasnow shows us how he built a small hybrid rocket engine. Ben makes a lot of other cool things too, like astronaut ice cream, a DIY scanning electron microscope, and why not, carbonated fruit slices.
posted by joechip on Sep 24, 2012 - 17 comments

Burning Mercury Thiocyanide Will Amaze You

Burning Mercury Thiocyanide Will Amaze You (SLYT)
posted by shivohum on Sep 23, 2012 - 66 comments

"We didn't ask, 'Are you seeing monsters and aliens?' They were telling us that."

PBS Newshour brings the science on bath salts (previously). Contains graphic descriptions of awesome laboratory experiments. via BoingBoing
posted by zjacreman on Sep 21, 2012 - 91 comments

A Tall Tail

"A Tall Tail," by MeFi's own Charles Stross.
posted by brundlefly on Jul 21, 2012 - 21 comments

For SCIENCE!

Science for the people: take a renowned scientist (Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman (Physics), Stephen Benkovik (Chemisty)) and sit them down on a street corner to answer questions.
Also: The No Excuse List (resources to learn just about anything), Minute Physics, Udacity (free, University-level courses online) and PetriDish, a Kickstarter for science projects.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul on Jul 13, 2012 - 7 comments

Is It Moist On Mars?

New report suggests Mars may be full of liquid water - Smithsonianmag.com
posted by The Whelk on Jun 26, 2012 - 77 comments

We Bond Ionically - A Love Story

Good Chemistry. [SLYT]
posted by sharpener on May 27, 2012 - 13 comments

"A combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness"

Why Do Old Books Smell? [SLYT]
posted by quin on Apr 23, 2012 - 22 comments

Clearly, he was on fire at the gym

Juicers, Trippers, and Crocodiles: The Dangerous World of Underground Chemistry
posted by IvoShandor on Apr 21, 2012 - 20 comments

Weak Interactions

Weak Interactions is a blog that looks at the science in Breaking Bad and the non-science in Fringe.
posted by reenum on Mar 12, 2012 - 59 comments

Tetranitratoxycarbon

"They fit more together, and they look better, and all the holes have to be filled." And with that, 10-year-old Clara Lazen discovers a new molecule, tetranitratoxycarbon. Which can apparently go BOOM if you figure out how to actually make some of it.
posted by Cool Papa Bell on Feb 6, 2012 - 46 comments

Don't try this at home

"I'm banned," he says. "By whom?" I ask. "My landlord," he says. "And the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority." Jon Ronson on DIY science.
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Feb 4, 2012 - 33 comments

Q: What is the meaning of life? A: I don't know, ask the gyre.

Theory of the Origin, Evolution, and Nature of Life, in which the author, Erik Andrulis, proposes an "axiomatic, experimentally testable, empirically consistent, heuristic, and unified theory of life." He also claims to be able to unify physics.....ahem. All this is done using the chemistry notation you learned in highschool. [more inside]
posted by AElfwine Evenstar on Jan 27, 2012 - 53 comments

Beneath the molecular diagram was the simple caption “MAKE ME!”

SiHKAL: Shulgins I Have Known and Loved: After spending days, weeks, months poring over the work [PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story; TiHKAL: The Continuation; lab books] of psychonaut-in-chief, Alexander Shulgin, Hamilton Morris mustered up the chutzpah to give him a call and request an interview. The result is this: an epic love-fest on the man who birthed Ecstasy in a test-tube. Hamilton visits the Shulgin residence (in San Francisco, naturally) and tempers his fanboy freakout with a rare and intensive look at the home and laboratory that caused the balls of millions to trip. For those who prefer text, here is the video in article form. [Shulgin previously: 1; 2]
posted by troll on Jan 20, 2012 - 15 comments

Imagine there's no people

So you wake up tomorrow morning to find almost everyone on Earth missing. The Internet will continue to work for a few hours: what information could you download to ensure your survival and rebuild civilization? A few suggestions: The CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. Third Word Development (18 GB of information on agriculture, livestock, food processing, construction, water, sanitation, health and much more). The Global Village Construction Set (previously). Copies of Gray's Anatomy, Where There Is No Doctor, and The Ship Captain’s Medical Guide.

A few more that might be handy even in ordinary times: all of Wikipedia, or perhaps just a portion. (Ideally, of course, you’d already have a bound, printed copy), Offline Google Mail (Chrome) to save correspondence; SiteSucker to download sites you’d like to keep around while offline.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul on Jan 5, 2012 - 89 comments

Oh Look It's The Hangover Ham!

Atlantic Wire: Science's Best Hangiver Cures [more inside]
posted by The Whelk on Jan 1, 2012 - 72 comments

"You kind of expect it to be quite so... WOW!!"

Chemical Reactions. Four minutes of the best moments of stuff burning, breaking, freezing, exploding, melting, and generally reacting in interesting ways. [more inside]
posted by quin on Dec 30, 2011 - 15 comments

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