Chemistry

I just now dug up this from the Science Codex:
 

Milestone: A methane-metal marriage


relating how the group of Lucy Ziurys at the University of Arizona have found a promising new way of making methylzinc, and published it at the end of last year. 
Compounds like this have been known since the mid-nineteenth century, but it appears that the new method might require much smaller overheads for industrial scale use, as well as being exciting new chemistry.

Chemistry space refers to the combinatorial and configurational space spanned by all possible molecules (i.e. those combination of atoms allowed by the rules of valence in energetically stable spatial arrangements). It is estimated that the total number of possible small organic molecules populating chemistry space could exceed 1060 — a number that exceeds the total number of atoms in the known universe, and is vastly greater than the number of molecules that have actually been isolated or synthesized.

There are rules in making presentations to people - in wine sales, for example, as we outlined in The Science Of Wine And Cheese, you buy on bread and sel on cheese because eating cheese is the way people get the most positive taste.   In science, if the audience wants to be inspired, talk about large motion in space and show Hubble pictures.   If they like the 'physics is soooo weird' kind of science, go small.  There are always strange and unexpected things at the nanoscale, even for the most common materials such as water.

I was catching up on chemistry news over the lunch hour and discovered this little gelatinous gem:
New Strategy for Expression of Recombinant Hydroxylated Human-Derived Gelatin in Pichia pastoris KM71
 
You're wiggling and jiggling with excitement, right? 

For those staring blankly at the title, wondering what caught my eye, it's the "human-derived gelatin" part. A quick search turned up a blogosphere all aflutter at the news of a human-based bowl of Jello in our snack-pack future.

Mmm, ground-up animal-derived collagen for my afternoon snack
Industry does quite a lot of basic research today but government funds the majority.  Prior to and during World War II those ratios were inverted and the private sector funded most basic research in hopes that the next big thing would be invented by them.
A combination of forest byproducts and crustacean shells may be the key to removing radioactive materials from drinking water, researchers from North Carolina State University have found.

The new material is a combination of hemicellulose, a byproduct of forest materials, and chitosan, which are crustacean shells that have been crushed into a powder.  It not only absorbs water, but can actually extract contaminates, such as radioactive iodide, from the water itself. The material forms a solid foam and has potential applications beyond radioactive materials.   The researchers found that it has the ability to remove heavy metals, such as arsenic,  from water or salt from sea water to make clean drinking water.

Scientists are launching a three-pronged attack on one of the most obstinate puzzles in materials sciences: what is the pseudogap?

They used three complementary experimental approaches to investigate a single material, the high-temperature superconductor Pb-Bi2201 (lead bismuth strontium lanthanum copper-oxide). Their results are the strongest evidence yet that the pseudogap phase, a mysterious electronic state peculiar to high-temperature superconductors, is not a gradual transition to superconductivity in these materials, as some have long believed.

Instead, it is a distinct phase of matter.

The pseudogap mystery
In the days of yore, organic chemistry was considered a branch of science that dealt with endless interactions involving carbon atoms as atomic and molecular interactive forces were not understood.
Archimedes steps in again.  The MacTutor tells us that
 
“Archimedes considered his most significant accomplishments were those concerning a cylinder circumscribing a sphere, and he asked for a representation of this together with his result on the ratio of the two, to be inscribed on his tomb.”
 
And one year after it was told us how to produce carbon spheres in relative abundance (at least, enough to buy a decent quantity from your laboratory chemical supplier), along comes Sumio Iijima telling us how to make cylinders.
 
When I was a lad, we were taught that carbon had two allotropes, graphite and diamond.  Although they’re both covalently connected, in neither of these is there anything that one would regard as a ‘molecule’.