Chemistry

Churning raw milk sufficiently creates butter. Squirting lemon juice coagulates it into curd. These two phenomena are not as straightforward as they sound on the molecular level.

When milk is churned, the fat molecules in it come closer to form aggregates. Lemon juice increases milk's acidity and creates similar molecular lumps. Yet butter and curd are not solids because in both cases, the aggregated molecules still maintain consistent distances from each other, behaving as if they are part of a liquid.


Next time you are in your local grocery store, step in to look a little more closely at the beer cooler. Amid the brightly colored, creative packaging lies the final battle for the ultimate goal – your purchases.

But, what battles were fought to get the beer to that particular cooler? More importantly, what might those battles say about larger trends in business today?

At Miami University’s Farmer School of Business, we designed an experiential class to go in depth with these issues, leveraging the lessons of the beer industries as a way to better understand larger trends in business strategy and supply chains.

What can the beer industry teach us?


Lightweight composite metal foams are effective at blocking X-rays, gamma rays and neutron radiation, and are capable of absorbing the energy of high impact collisions, and a new finding means the metal foams hold promise for use in nuclear safety, space exploration and medical technology applications.

Researchers conducted multiple tests to see how effective it was at blocking X-rays, gamma rays and neutron radiation. She then compared the material's performance to the performance of bulk materials that are currently used in shielding applications. The comparison was made using samples of the same "areal" density - meaning that each sample had the same weight, but varied in volume.


The process of distilling water, crude oil or ethyl alcohol are all based on similar science.  When two or more chemicals are thoroughly mixed in a liquid, being able to separate them can be quite a challenge. 

A newly discovered family of chemical structures known as zeolites could increase the value of biogas and natural gas that contains carbon dioxide.

The zeolites -- crystalline aluminosilicates with frameworks that contain windows and cavities the size of small molecules -- can separate out carbon dioxide more effectively from fuel gases than those previously known.

Existing zeolites have widespread use in industrial processes that involve gas separation and catalytic conversion, for example to remove nitrogen and carbon dioxide from compressed air to generate oxygen in hospitals and airplanes. There is an ongoing search for new zeolites to add to those known, to augment the small number of different types used commercially.


By Marsha Lewis, Inside Science – Each year, about 32 billion bottles of wine are bought and sold around the world.  Each bottle contains about two and a half pounds of grapes, and to transform those grapes into a beverage with the perfect aroma, color, and taste, winemakers carefully monitor the complex chemistry bubbling away in wineries’ fermentation tanks.

“I would say the trickiest part of making wine is getting the flavors right,” said Linda Bisson, a yeast geneticist at the University of California, Davis.

Wearing a computer on your sleeve may be a lot cooler than a plastic watch with an Apple logo on it - researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have designed a responsive hybrid material fueled by an oscillatory chemical reactions.

They can even perform computations based on changes in the environment or movement, and respond to human vital signs. The material system is sufficiently small and flexible enough to be integrated into fabric or introduced as an inset into a shoe.


Recent research has reignited concerns that exposure to chemicals from plastics might be to blame for low sperm counts in young men. I share the concerns about the high prevalence of low sperm counts (one in six young men), and my research is directed at trying to identify what causes it. But whether plastics are to blame isn’t a simple matter.

Before there were cells on Earth, simple, tiny catalysts most likely evolved the ability to speed up and synchronize the chemical reactions necessary for life to rise from the primordial soup. But what those catalysts were, how they appeared at the same time, and how they evolved into the two modern superfamilies of enzymes that translate our genetic code have not been understood.

Scientists have provided what they say is the first direct experimental evidence for how primordial proteins developed the ability to accelerate the central chemical reaction necessary to synthesize proteins and thus allow life to arise not long after Earth was created.


In collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture, the University of the Basque Country Department of Analytical Chemistry has identified the volatile compounds in damaged walnuts that insects find attractive and which is threatening the harvests of these nuts in California.

These are the first studies carried out on walnuts which are designed to specify the components of the aroma and which can be used to control the moth pests in the most sustainable way, besides helping to cut the use of pesticides and control agents.