162 posts tagged with chemistry.
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‘Chemophobia’ is irrational, harmful – and hard to break

"We all feel a profound connection with the natural world. E O Wilson called this sensation biophilia: ‘the urge to affiliate with other forms of life’. That sense of connection brings great emotional satisfaction. It can decrease levels of anger, anxiety and pain. It has undoubtedly helped our species to survive, since we are fundamentally dependent on our surrounding environment and ecosystem. But lately biophilia has spawned an extreme variant: chemophobia, a reflexive rejection of modern synthetic chemicals."
It has become conventional wisdom among chemists that “chemophobia” is the root of many people’s trepidation about chemicals. Framing the issue as an irrational fear may not be the best way to improve chemicals’ public image, however.
[more inside] posted by Blasdelb on Jun 13, 2016 - 122 comments

Nh Mc Ts Og - The New Element Names Are Out!

Elements 113, 115, 117, and 118 are one step closer to shedding those boring "Un-un-" placeholder names, as the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry has announced the names of nihonium (Nh), moscovium (Mc), tennessine (Ts), and oganesson (Og), repectively. The names are provisional for the next six months for public review and comment. [more inside]
posted by Etrigan on Jun 9, 2016 - 67 comments

BOOP BEEP BOOP

Your brain does not process information, retrieve knowledge or store memories. In short: your brain is not a computer.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane on May 19, 2016 - 183 comments

Rusting Rainbow

The soothing educational tones of Reading Rainbow combined with the exciting technical explanations of Geordi La Forge: Levar Burton explains how to Combat the Pervasive Menace of Corrosion. In this series of DoD-sponsored educational videos, Levar Burton and various luminaries in the field explain how corrosion works and how to fight it. [more inside]
posted by fermion on Apr 11, 2016 - 26 comments

"There’s white and then there’s the how-white-my-shirts-can-be white..."

Stealing White: How a corporate spy swiped plans for DuPont’s billion-dollar color formula By Del Quentin Wilber [Bloomberg Business]
“At first, you’re like: Why are they stealing the color white? I had to Google it to figure out what titanium dioxide even was,” says Dean Chappell, acting section chief of counterespionage for the FBI. “Then you realize there is a strategy to it.” You can’t even call it spying, adds John Carlin, the assistant attorney general in charge of the U.S. Department of Justice’s national security division. “This is theft. And this—stealing the color white—is a very good example of the problem. It’s not a national security secret. It’s about stealing something you can make a buck off of. It’s part of a strategy to profit off what American ingenuity creates.”
posted by Fizz on Feb 5, 2016 - 58 comments

the mystery of the disintegrating laundry

Why was laundry disintegrating on urban clotheslines in the 1920s? Chemical Heritage Magazine has the answer!
posted by moonmilk on Jan 27, 2016 - 19 comments

No word on Unobtanium

Scientists find four new elements and complete the periodic table's 7th period. Nearly five years after elements 114 (Flerovium) and 116 (Livermorium) were officially added to the periodic table of the elements, IUPAC is recognizing four more. [more inside]
posted by HE Amb. T. S. L. DuVal on Jan 4, 2016 - 46 comments

"You could build a house of milk with this one neat trick..."

Galalith. The world's first plastic. Known as "milk stone" it was created by the interaction of casein and formaline. Produced in the 1900s in great quantities in France and Germany, it was used as an ivory substitute in billiard balls, piano keys and a variety of jewelry. Production declined post-WWII and while vintage galalith is pricey on ebay you can make it yourself at home.
posted by jessamyn on Dec 25, 2015 - 29 comments

Unobtanium

The Doomsday Scam. For decades, aspiring bomb makers — including ISIS — have desperately tried to get their hands on a lethal substance called red mercury. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Nov 19, 2015 - 47 comments

slow and steady

The slow-chemistry movement [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Sep 9, 2015 - 17 comments

Achieving a sense of peace

And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life — achieving a sense of peace within oneself. I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest.
Sabbath, an essay by Oliver Sacks (NYT) [more inside]
posted by Joe in Australia on Aug 17, 2015 - 15 comments

One Way or Another

"In a patent dispute between two pharmaceutical giants arguing over who owns the royalty rights to a lucrative wound-dressing solution, their lordships sat in judgment over an issue that would have tested the mettle of the finest mathematical logicians; and in the process coined a new legal definition of “one”." [more inside]
posted by not_the_water on Aug 8, 2015 - 43 comments

Boron is a Subdued Element...

Kaycie D. is an animator and artist who grew up on Disney films and has used that inspiration to create her own anthropomorphized illustrations of the chemical elements.
posted by Navelgazer on Jul 29, 2015 - 22 comments

There's Antimony, Arsenic, Aluminum, Selenium...

The Dynamic Periodic Table... probably the only periodic table most of you will ever need, or want, to consult (aside from Tom Lehrer's musical version). What makes this periodic table different? Take it for a spin and find out!
posted by not_on_display on Jul 12, 2015 - 13 comments

Complex Organic Molecules Discovered in Infant Star System

Astronomers at the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have detected the presence of organic cyanide molecules in a protoplanetary disk surrounding the young star MWC 480 in the Taurus star-forming region.

'“Studies of comets and asteroids show that the solar nebula that spawned our Sun and planets was rich in water and complex organic compounds,” noted Karin Öberg, an astronomer with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., and lead author on a paper published in the journal Nature. “We now have evidence that this same chemistry exists elsewhere in the universe, in regions that could form solar systems not unlike our own.”' [more inside]
posted by Existential Dread on Apr 8, 2015 - 15 comments

Keep Korma and Curry On

Scientists have figured out what makes Indian food so delicious. [Washington Post]
In a large new analysis of more than 2,000 popular recipes, data scientists have discovered perhaps the key reason why Indian food tastes so unique: It does something radical with flavors, something very different from what we tend to do in the United States and the rest of Western culture. And it does it at the molecular level.
posted by Fizz on Mar 3, 2015 - 113 comments

ENDLESS AMUSEMENT

Have you any spare mercury about the house? Are you well supplied with saltpetre, phosphorus, and oil of vitriol? Such domestic staples can you afford you ENDLESS AMUSEMENT! in the form of hundreds of science tricks from 1847! [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Feb 6, 2015 - 36 comments

A chemist, a poet, a playwright

Carl Djerassi, the chemist who synthesised the active ingredient in the first successful combined contraceptive pill, died on January 30 2015 at the age of 91. In addition to his work as a scientist, which yielded more than 1000 papers, he wrote novels, plays and poems. [more inside]
posted by James Scott-Brown on Feb 1, 2015 - 18 comments

Let it snow P3s

All snowflakes are special, but they are classified into just 8 general, 29 intermediate and 121 elementary categories.
posted by hat_eater on Dec 11, 2014 - 9 comments

Genius and Sacrifice in Early 20th Century Chemistry

"Although radiation’s connection to cancer was known and the lab’s own employees had clearly suffered, the Curies made few adjustments to protocol." The descendent of a chemist in the Curies' lab recounts her great-great aunt's discovery of francium, followed shortly thereafter by a long, painful battle with cancer due to radiation exposure. In learning more about Marguerite Perey's life and untimely death a dark question emerges that complicates the cheery family folklore about a scientific hero: why did the Curies' take so few precautions for the health and safety of those who worked in their lab?
posted by thelaze on Dec 7, 2014 - 20 comments

Did it just knock the bullet off course?

Detcord burns extremely quickly. One of the finest applications of high speed photography I've ever seen. Merry Christmas! [more inside]
posted by butterstick on Dec 6, 2014 - 23 comments

Beepocalypse!!! A Strange Case of Crankery Derailing Environmentalism

Part I: Bee Deaths Mystery Solved? Neonicotinoids (Neonics) May Actually Help Bee Health.
Reports that honey bees are dying in unusually high numbers has concerned many scientists, farmers and beekeepers, and gripped the public. There have been thousands of stories ricocheting across the web, citing one study or another as the definitive explanation for a mystery that most mainstream experts say is complex and not easily reducible to the kind of simplistic narrative that appeals to advocacy groups. We explore the claims by Harvard School of Public Health researcher Chensheng Lu, heralded by anti-pesticide and anti-GMO advocacy groups, for his research that purportedly proves that the class of chemicals known as neonicotinoids are killing bees and endangering humans.
Part II: Bee Deaths And CCD - Flawed Chensheng Lu Harvard Studies Endanger Bees.
Here we examine the specific claim that neonics are responsible for Colony Collapse Disorder—the centerpiece of Lu’s assertions and again see how influential media manipulate quotes and selectively present information to ideologically influence trusting readers.
[more inside] posted by Blasdelb on Nov 25, 2014 - 50 comments

the law of "fuck yes or no"

"Fuck Yes!" or No - "Think about this for a moment: Why would you ever choose to be with someone who is not excited to be with you?"
(Fuck Yes, No Less - "How many of us have been taught to let persuasion and doubt override our instincts? How many of us have been taught to live in the grey?") [more inside]
posted by flex on Nov 9, 2014 - 58 comments

Why chemicals are like blenders, not margarita machines.

"As a chemist, I can tell you that no chemical is 100 percent safe all the time, under all conditions. Even I occasionally do a double take when I hear about the ingredients in some of our foods. But our fear of chemicals – what is often called chemophobia – needs to be tempered. [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Oct 16, 2014 - 95 comments

Colloquially, I would imagine that the compound is known as "Oh, @#&!"

Things I won't work with: Peroxide Peroxides
posted by namewithoutwords on Oct 10, 2014 - 33 comments

"What were the reasons behind the dictums and cooking lore?"

Hervé This: The world’s weirdest chef [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Aug 26, 2014 - 6 comments

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

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