Chemistry

A new nanotechnology lubricant will be suitable for extreme conditions.

Shuttles and equipment used in space consist of numerous elements that have several friction-prone components so the surfaces must be greased to ensure smooth operation. Conventional oils and greases cannot be used in space due to extreme temperature, pressure and radiation conditions so solid substances such as molybdenum disulfide and graphite are preferred for space usage.


PhD student Triinu Taaber working in the laboratory of physics of nanostructures. Credit: Andres Tennus
A new class of dopamine receptor antagonists (DARs) could provide a safer means of controlling mosquitoes that transmit key infectious diseases such as dengue, yellow fever and elephantiasis. The new chemicals work by manipulating the neurotransmitter dopamine to lock into protein receptors that span the mosquito cell membrane. Disrupting the mechanics of dopamine, which plays important roles in cell signaling, development and behavior, eventually leads to the insect's death.
Urine is commonly believed to be sterile until it reaches the urethra but that has led to numerous misconceptions about what can and should or should not be done with it. Drinking urine is a bad idea, for example, because even though it is sterile it contains urea and other substances that can still be toxic.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that is used in a variety of consumer products, such as water bottles, dental composites and resins used to line metal food and beverage containers. Often, aquatic environments such as rivers and streams become reservoirs for contaminants, which can include products containing BPA.

A new experiment was able to expose fish to endocrine-disrupting chemicals and cause them to pass adverse reproductive effects onto their offspring as many as three generations later, leading the authors to suggest that BPA could have adverse reproductive effects for fish and also humans and their offspring who are exposed to BPA as well.



Soft drinks are loaded with sugar because they need to be sweet. But why is sweetness the fundamental consideration?

Some candies are sour and people love them. When did we become so polarized about sweet and salty? Some of it is just culture and so it would take time to adjust. A friend of mine moved to the U.S. from Korea and an early comment was, 'There is so much cheese' but Americans don't realize that we have dairy everywhere. 'Soft' drinks as we know them were created so merchants could sell something on Sundays, when 'hard' drinks were not allowed. Because the market was also kids they were made sweet.
Bioplastics are used in medical applications such as wound healing dressings, sutures, catheter tubes and drug delivery and bioplastics made from protein sources such as albumin and whey have shown significant antibacterial properties.

They could even be used for food packaging, according to a recent study by the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences. 
In January of 2015 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) lowered the threshold value for bisphenol A in packaging.  The scientific determination behind that is irrelevant at this point, the only times Europe backs off on bizarre science assertions are when it comes to things like making ugly fruit illegal to sell or claiming water does not cure thirst, so companies are stuck with creating dubious alternatives or just using less, but the public is often educated by advertising so they want less of it in the environment.
Our bodies do not absorb all of the medicines we might take, some are excreted and though the impact individually is minor, over time and in a large population, there are concerns that such medical waste will lead to issues like antibiotic resistance.
In 1996, the Nobel Prize for Chemistry went to the discoverers of Buckminsterfullerene; soccer-ball-shaped spheres of 60 joined carbon atoms that exhibit special physical properties colloquially called Buckyballs.

It was only a time before someone found a way to weaponize those, but in this case for the public good: Buckybombs. But these nanoscale explosives will target and eliminate cancer at the cellular level, triggering tiny explosions that kill cancer cells without affecting surrounding tissue.
Hydrazine was reported once in a limited sample of cigarette tobacco and tobacco smoke over 40 years ago[1] but ever since then it has been assumed as fact that hydrazine must be present in smokeless tobacco products as well, without anyone actually examining those products for its presence.