If you took high school chemistry, you probably did a simple experiment in which you dipped pH test paper into beakers bearing various liquids and watched the strip change colors. If it was acidic, the paper turned toward the red end of the color spectrum; if it was basic, it darkened toward the violet end.
If you took more advanced chemistry, you might have learned that bases are substances that can donate electron pairs, and that acids are substances that can accept them. The point is that the two types of chemicals are polar opposites. Until now, according to researchers at the University of California-Riverside, who have successfully made acidic compounds act like bases.
Back in 2001, NASA launched a mission named Genesis toward the sun to collect solar particles streaming from our star and return them to Earth. Genesis arrived back on Earth right on time in 2004, but all didn’t go according to plan. When Genesis’s parachute failed, the spacecraft crash landed in Utah, spilling it’s contents across the ground.
A test-tube circuit made of DNA-based logic gates can calculate the square root of numbers up to 15, using DNA replication and sequence binding to conduct computations. It’s excruciatingly slow — a calculation can take up to 10 hours — so organic laptops are not exactly in our near future. But the real breakthrough is in how this system can enable control of chemical systems.
A new study demonstrates how high hydrocarbons could be formed from methane deep within the Earth, aside from the compression and heating of ancient animal remains over the eons. Fused-methane oil would be far less common than your typical petroleum, of course, but the study shows abiogenic hydrocarbons could conceivably occur in some of the planet’s high-pressure and high-temperature zones.
Chemists have messed with the constituent parts of a helium atom and fooled it into behaving like it was hydrogen. This form of alchemy allows a physical test of how atomic mass affects chemical reaction rates.
The trickery involves a particle accelerator, a heavy subatomic particle and some knowledge of quantum mechanics.
A Nobel prize winning scientist who shared the 2008 prize for medicine for his role in establishing the link between HIV and AIDS has stirred up a good deal of both interest and skepticism with his latest experimental results, which more or less show that DNA can teleport itself to distant cells via electromagnetic signals. If his results prove correct, they would shake up the foundations upon which modern chemistry rests. But plenty of Montagnier’s peers are far from convinced.
Don't mind those folks sniffing around the gas station - they're researchers. DARPA has a new scheme to identify the distinctive chemical scent of your city, to help protect you from chemical terrorist attacks.
Michael Bartl’s office is overrun with dead beetles. They’re not the remains of an infestation. The green corpses of Lamprocyphus augustus, native to Brazil, led Bartl to one of the most sought-after crystals in optical science.
All this week, the origin and continued preservation of five of our favorite standard units of measure
By Sam Kean
Posted 11.04.2010 at 11:53 am 9 Comments
This week, Sam Kean takes a look at some ridiculously precise standards -- the meter, the second, and other international standard units -- and the role that elements have played in defining, redefining, and re-redefining them over the ages.
We all have an intuitive idea of what a meter or a second is, and even a candela seems pretty straightforward. The mole is different, probably the hardest metric standard to grasp at first.
There are a few perks to my job as a mad scientist, and one of them, as I recently learned, is being able to tell my colleagues that I can’t attend their terribly important meeting because I’m going to set my hand on fire.
In the movies, people on fire stumble out of burning buildings all the time. If you look closely, however, you’ll notice that they are almost always fully dressed, and that they tend to keep moving. These are two important factors that make the stunt much easier.
First graphene, now this: Carbon is just the hottest element on the block these days. The 2010 Nobel Prize for Chemistry has just been awarded to three chemists who have come up with a technique that allows them to build carbon-based molecules as complex as those found in nature.
A dash of this, a pinch of that, and it seems researchers at Northwestern have cooked up a new class of nanostructures that aren't just ideal for such applications as gas storage or medical technologies, but also edible. The team, which began their research with a completely different outcome in mind, found that their recipe produced natural and edible metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), porous crystalline structures with unique properties that are usually difficult to make and composed of toxic petroleum products.
An accidental chemistry discovery could lead to a new method for making antifreeze, moisturizer and plastic bottles out of biomass rather than petroleum, according to researchers at Iowa State University.
For the first time, a human-designed chemical enzyme -- a chemzyme -- has been used to break down a toxin found inside fruits and vegetables.
Chemzymes are designed to emulate the body's naturally occuring enzymes, but are much simpler and tougher. A chemzyme designed by a Danish scientist successfully neutralized glycoside esculin, a toxic compound found in horse chestnuts. The toxin can cause nasty problems like muscle twitching, lack of coordination, vomiting, diarrhea, depression and paralysis.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.