Chemistry

ECHA, the European Chemicals Agency, has released findings from its Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) which concluded that glyphosate (e.g. Roundup, by the agriculture company Monsanto, though it's been off-patent for 17 years) is not a carcinogen, nor is it a mutagen, nor is it toxic for reproduction.

We frequently see a contrast drawn between what is “natural” and what is “chemical.” Sometimes products are described as “chemical-free” even though every physical object is made of chemicals.

As much as this suggests a problem with our science education, it speaks to a missed opportunity for wonder. Nature is not some sort of cosmic mother figure; on the contrary, nature is composed of diverse biological and physical processes, including some pretty amazing examples of chemistry continually taking place.

Holy grail -againAfter being only theorized for 80 years, Harvard scientists claim they have succeeded in creating the rarest - and potentially one of the most valuable - materials on the planet.
In computer science, the classic Turing test evaluates a machine's ability to mimic human behavior, and therefore is a measure of determining how close a machine can come to artificial intelligence. To pass, a computer must fool the tester into thinking it is human -- typically through the use of questions and answers.

What about for single-celled organisms? They can't communicate with words but they still communicate, and that means the search is on to create artificial ones that do just. IN ACS Central Science, researchers demonstrate that certain artificial cells can pass a basic laboratory Turing test by 'talking' chemically with living bacterial cells.

A new environmental claim about endocrine disruptors would seem to be an early Christmas gift for the fundraisers and lawyers at the Environmental Working Group and NRDC but the scientist employed at each of those groups likely feels a little dread.

Because the new endocrine disruptor is salt, and despite the perennially low quality science that dribbles from their websites, even they must realize how stupid it looks. Maybe even enough worry that remotely inquisitive individuals might wonder, "Hmm. Salt is disrupting my 'endocrines?' Huh?? Maybe the other endocrine stuff they write about is garbage too."

Michael Pollan, food activist and journalist, is the proverbial man trapped in the past in his latest piece for the New York Times, criticizing the Obama administration for not catering to his bizarre beliefs about how food production actually works, and along the way taking the opportunity to smear...me.

The group known as Islamic State (IS) reportedly used a sulpur-mustard gas against US troops in Iraq.

 Bisphenol A (BPA) is a component of some plastics and is found in food containers, plastic water bottles, dental sealants, and thermal receipt paper. In the body, BPA is a mild synthetic estrogen, one of the gigantic class of chemicals called "endocrine disruptors", even if they are 1/20,000th able to bind as well as the actual estrogen.

Environmentalists claim that despite the FDA doing an exhaustive four-year study and finding no effects, even in pregnant mice, despite feeding them 1,000 times as much BPA as a human can get, and affirming that humans process and excrete BPA far more efficiently than rodents, that a magical hormesis effect is still causing problems.

Electronic cigarettes have grown in popularity as an alternative to traditional cigarette smoking - the idea is that since they are just nicotine vapor, users will not be placed in peril by the 200 toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke.

Still, they are controversial. The government does not allow them to be marketed for smoking cessation because no company is large enough to survive regulatory approval - except tobacco or pharmaceutical companies, which many e-cigarette users regard as the problem.

It is commonly perceived that natural chemicals are safe while manmade substances may be harmful.  These perceptions, however, if not supported by scientific evidence, can result in risk perception gaps that can cause us to worry more than warranted by the evidence.