After 1,200 unsuccessful attempts to do something, most people would call it quits. Not Harvard University chemist Tobias Ritter. Chemistry research is 90 percent failure, he says. But success, when it comes, can be big. In Ritter's case, it could mean more-effective drugs. Ritter, a native of Germany, had been studying fluorination, the process by which fluorine atoms bind to carbon, since 2007.
Vindication has to be one of the most satisfying effects of a Nobel Prize win — after years of work, the scientific community has finally recognized the real weight of a discovery someone probably fought a very long time to prove. So Daniel Shechtman must feel really satisfied today. The Israeli chemist is a Nobel laureate for his discovery of quasicrystals, a unique form of solid matter whose discovery cost him his job and reputation.
More than ten years after the fact, a scientists based at the Norwegian research institute SINTEF is proposing that a well-documented chemical reaction spelled the ultimate demise of the Twin Towers after the attacks of September 11, 2001. This isn't another conspiracy theory, nor is it proven fact.
For as long as I can remember, I've loved gunpowder. One of my fondest childhood memories is pulling down volume G of the encyclopedia and seeing the formula for this magic substance for the first time. Saltpeter, sulfur and charcoal, listed with exact percentages! That was heady stuff for a kid who had been forced to rely on collecting match heads for flammable material. But where to get the ingredients? I settled on hitting up pharmacists, telling one that my mom had sent me out to get saltpeter for canning, and a different one that she'd sent me out for sulfur and I didn't know why (because I couldn't think of a better cover story).
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.