Chemistry

Glow-in-the-dark stickers are nothing new; they emit visible light after being exposed to sunlight.  A paper just published in Nature Materials emits a long-lasting, near-infrared glow after a single minute of exposure to sunlight.

Why is that good? It has the potential to revolutionize medical diagnostics, give the military and law enforcement agencies a 'secret' source of illumination - because the near-infrared range can only be seen with the aid of night vision devices - and maybe even provide a foundation for solar cells that aren't complete rubbish.
Researchers have discovered how Golden orb web spiders (Nephila antipodiana) add a chemical to their web silk to repel invading ants, which means spider silk is even more awesome than it was before; it was already strong, elastic and adhesive, and now it can improve pesticide design.

Insects who can scale walls are able to do so because of the thousands of tiny hairs that cover their feet and legs. The hairs have flattened tips that can splay out to maximize contact, even on rough surfaces. 

The ability of insects to run up walls and hang from ceilings have fascinated humans for centuries. Scientists from the Zoological Institute at the University of Kiel, in Germany, have created a dry tape similar to the hairs on insects that can be repeatedly peeled off without losing its adhesive properties. They presented their work at the AVS Symposium held last week in Nashville, Tenn.

Ice cream is big business in America.  Sales of ice cream and frozen desserts top $20 billion annually, according to the International Dairy Food Association, which is about 1.6 billion gallons per year or 23 quarts per person per year. It's consumed by nearly 90 percent of households (vegans - bah).  According to the National Ice Cream Retailers Association, ice cream consumption grew nearly 25 percent from a year ago and nearly 10 percent of American milk goes into frozen treats.

It's too late for this summer, but some time soon you could be enjoying an experimental ice cream that starts as one flavor then shifts to another before being swallowed.

It's not vanilla and chocolate mixed, it's vanilla transformed.
Are students inspired to go into physics because of a television show like "The Big Bang Theory"?  Probably not, or else 60% of America would be cops and lawyers.

But chemistry has a bad reputation, argues a recent editorial in Nature Chemistry, and "Breaking Bad" gets some of the blame for keeping its reputation bad.   It's a cable show on AMC, so not exactly on the minds of all that many people, but it chronicles the transformation of Walter White from suburban high school chemistry teacher to crystal meth dealer and criminal mastermind who uses his chemistry expertise (poisons, noxious gases, and acid) to eliminate rival meth dealers. 
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.