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Archive for the ‘chemistry’ category

Feb 17, 2019

A new chemical process could turn a quarter of our plastic waste into clean fuel

Posted by in categories: chemistry, engineering, sustainability

A new chemical process could turn about 90% of the world’s grocery bags, shrink wrap, and other polypropylene waste into clean fuel.


Grocery bags and other trash could be melted down to yield useful products like oil and gas.

The problem: The world’s landfill sites and oceans are being flooded with plastic. A mere 9% of the 8.3 billion tons of plastic produced over the last 65 years has been recycled, according to the United Nations. Over eight million tons of plastic flow into our oceans every year, harming wildlife.

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Feb 6, 2019

Cleaning up the clutter: How proto-biology arose from the prebiotic clutter

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry

‘’We find selection rules driving interactions in chemistry as a result of environmental conditions; or emergent properties such as catalytic activity, self-assembly and self-replication; or even as a result of the specifics of chemical reactions.’’


Just like the mythical creation stories that depict the formation of the world as the story of order from chaos, the early Earth was home to a chaotic clutter of organic molecules from which, somehow, more complex biological structures such as RNA and DNA emerged.

There was no guiding hand to dictate how the molecules within that prebiotic clutter should interact to form life. Yet, had those molecules just interacted randomly then, in all likelihood, that they would never have chanced upon the right interactions to ultimately lead to life.

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Feb 3, 2019

Plastics are being glued together in the ocean by bacteria, scientists find

Posted by in categories: chemistry, food, particle physics

Researchers at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh used water collected from the Faroe-Shetland Channel and the Firth of Forth to set up their experiments. Plastics were added to the seawater and then incubated in conditions simulating the ocean’s surface. Within minutes, the minuscule pieces of plastic grouped together with bacteria, algae and other organic particles. The scientists are said to have been surprised to discover large masses of biopolymers formed the bulk of these plastic agglomerates. Team member Stephen Summers said: “This is a first step towards understanding how nanoplastics interact with natural biopolymers throughout the world’s oceans. ”This is very important, as it is at this small scale that much of the world’s biogeochemistry occurs. ”We found that the biopolymers envelope or engulf the nanoplastic particles, which caused the plastics to agglomerate into clumps. ”The nanoplastics, which are 100–200 times smaller than a bacterial cell, were actually incorporated into the agglomerates, which became visible to the naked eye in our lab experiments. ”The fact that these agglomerates become large enough to see raises concern, as they are likely to be seen as a food source by small marine animals.” We found that the biopolymers envelope or engulf the nanoplastic particles, which caused the plastics to agglomerate into clumps.


Researchers said micro and nano plastic particles mix with the bacteria secretions within minutes, forming clumps.

Press Association

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Feb 1, 2019

Celebrate the women behind the periodic table

Posted by in category: chemistry

#HiddenFigures #Friday Here we spotlight some of the women who revolutionized our understanding of the elements. Marie Curie is the most celebrated, for her double Nobel-prizewinning research on radioactivity and for discovering polonium and radium. Stories of other women’s roles are scarce. So, too, is an appreciation of the skills required, including tenacity and diligence in performing experiments, sifting through data and reassessing theories.


Brigitte Van Tiggelen and Annette Lykknes spotlight female researchers who discovered elements and their properties.

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Jan 30, 2019

Happy birthday, periodic table

Posted by in categories: chemistry, education

How much do you know about the iconic symbol of science pinned to every classroom wall?

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Jan 25, 2019

Europe’s ‘New’ Periodic Table Predicts Which Elements Will Disappear in the Next 100 Years

Posted by in categories: chemistry, mobile phones

Scientists made a ‘new’ periodic table of elements to show how smartphones (and party balloons) are draining Earth’s resources.

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Jan 22, 2019

New insight into cell membranes could improve drug testing and design

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry

Research at the University of Arkansas on membrane proteins could lead to better development and testing of drugs. Chemistry researchers studied a type of membrane protein that expels drugs from a cell, contributing to drug resistance. They found that the lipid composition of the cell membrane has an effect on the behavior of these proteins, which should be taken into account when testing drugs that target membrane proteins. Their results are available open-access in the journal ACS Central Science.

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Jan 17, 2019

New scale for electronegativity rewrites the chemistry textbook

Posted by in categories: chemistry, education, particle physics, quantum physics

Electronegativity is one of the most well-known models for explaining why chemical reactions occur. Now, Martin Rahm from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, has redefined the concept with a new, more comprehensive scale. His work, undertaken with colleagues including a Nobel Prize-winner, has been published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The theory of is used to describe how strongly different atoms attract electrons. By using electronegativity scales, one can predict the approximate charge distribution in different molecules and materials, without needing to resort to complex quantum mechanical calculations or spectroscopic studies. This is vital for understanding all kinds of materials, as well as for designing new ones. Used daily by chemists and materials researchers all over the world, the concept originates from Swedish chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius’ research in the 19th century and is widely taught at high-school level.

Now, Martin Rahm, Assistant Professor in Physical Chemistry at Chalmers University of Technology, has developed a brand-new scale of electronegativity.

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Jan 10, 2019

There’s a glitch at the edge of the universe that could remake physics

Posted by in categories: biological, chemistry, particle physics

One mysterious number determines how physics, chemistry and biology work. But controversial experimental hints suggest it’s not one number at all.

By Michael Brooks

IT IS a well-kept secret, but we know the answer to life, the universe and everything. It’s not 42 – it’s 1/137.

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Jan 7, 2019

The iconic periodic table could have looked very different

Posted by in category: chemistry

But the periodic table didn’t actually start with Mendeleev. Many had tinkered with arranging the elements. Decades before, chemist John Dalton tried to create a table as well as some rather interesting symbols for the elements (they didn’t catch on). And just a few years before Mendeleev sat down with his deck of homemade cards, John Newlands also created a table sorting the elements by their properties.

Mendeleev’s genius was in what he left out of his table. He recognised that certain elements were missing, yet to be discovered. So where Dalton, Newlands and others had laid out what was known, Mendeleev left space for the unknown. Even more amazingly, he accurately predicted the properties of the missing elements.

Dimitry Mendeleev’s table

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