A 1997 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule allowed food manufacturers to use ingredients "generally regarded as safe," or GRAS, like vinegar and lots of other things, without needing approval all over again.

Food advocates say the current GRAS process allows substances into the food supply that might pose a health risk. How can safe products be risky?

Natural gas hydraulic fracturing - fracking - has been wonderful for CO2 emissions while keeping energy costs for poor people manageable but a few sites have been treating fracking wastewater and returning it to rivers. 

A new study finds that this is just as risky as dumping any municipal treated wastewater back into rivers. As runoff, it is safe but it shouldn't be done in volume. In the case of fracking wastewater, existing facilities are not equipped to thoroughly deal with halides so until they are ready, it's simply better to use fracking wastewater for fracking.

Wine, with its thousands of chemical combinations, can be hard to judge. As numerous studies have shown, getting experts to distinguish between a $4 bottle of wine and a $40 one is in the luck range

Can a nanosensor do better? Researchers at Aarhus University believe they are on that path, at least when it comes to dryness.

Molecules containing carbon-halogen bonds are produced naturally across all kingdoms of life and constitute a large family of natural products with a broad range of biological activities. 

The presence of halogen substituents in many bioactive compounds has a profound influence on their molecular properties and a goal of chemical science has been to find the late-stage, site-specific incorporation of a halogen atom into a complex natural product by replacing an sp³ C-H bond (one of the most inert chemical bonds known in an organic compound) with a C-X bond (X=halogen).

There has been no reliable synthetic or biological method known to be able to achieve this type of transformation but in Nature Chemical Biology

Astronomers searching the atmospheres of alien planets for gases that might be produced by life, such as oxygen, ozone, or methane, may be missing the mark - because those gases can be produced non-biologically.

Methane is a carbon atom bound to four hydrogen atoms. On Earth, much of it is produced biologically - burping cows are a classic example - but it can also be made inorganically; for example, volcanoes at the bottom of the ocean can release the gas after it is produced by reactions of rocks with seawater.

Image credit: Pslawinski via Wikimedia |

By Chris Gorski, Inside Science

(Inside Science) -- Xenon is one of the so-called noble gases. It's odorless, colorless and a loner. It very rarely combines with other atoms, or even itself, to form molecules. Like helium, neon, argon, krypton and radon, it's kind of a wallflower that rests on the far right of the periodic table.

Unlike most of those others, though, recent reports show that xenon might improve athletic performance in endurance sports. The gas may also help erase traumatic memories.

In 1929 Linus Pauling came up with Pauling's Rules to describe the principles governing the structure of complex ionic crystals.

These rules essentially describe how the arrangement of atoms in a crystal is critically dependent on the size of the atoms, their charge and type of bonding.

According to scientists from the Biohybrid Materials Group of Aalto University Finland led by Mauri Kostiainen, similar rules can be applied to prepare ionic colloidal crystals consisting of oppositely charged proteins and virus particles. The results can be applied for example in packing and protecting virus particles into crystals that mimic 

A certain type of biomolecule, called a glycoconjugate,  is built like a nano-Christmas tree. Its many branches are bedecked with sugary ornaments that get all the glory. That's because, according to conventional wisdom, the glycoconjugate's lowly "tree" basically holds the sugars in place as they do the important work of reacting with other molecules.

A chemist at Michigan Technological University has discovered that the tree itself — the scaffold — is a good deal more than a simple prop.

The first direct observations of how facets form and develop on platinum nanocubes reveals that a nearly 150 year-old scientific law describing crystal growth breaks down at the nanoscale.

The researchers behind a new study used transmission electron microscopes and an advanced high-resolution, fast-detection camera to capture the physical mechanisms that control the evolution of facets – flat faces – on the surfaces of platinum nanocubes formed in liquids.

Understanding how facets develop on a nanocrystal is critical to controlling the crystal's geometric shape, which in turn is critical to controlling the crystal's chemical and electronic properties.

Researchers have developed a new process which will greatly simplify the process of sorting plastics in recycling plants by enabling automated identification of polymers and facilitating rapid separation of plastics for re-use.