Chemistry

What started my scientific wondering about popcorn? I was reading press-releases about presentations at the American Chemical Society's 239th meeting happening this week in San Francisco while craving a healthy snack.

Suddenly, I remembered my favorite report from last year's ACS meeting, about popcorn's antioxidant polyphenols.
Scientists have development of a new carbon dating method to determine the age of mummies,  artwork, and other relics without damaging them. 

Presenting at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), they say the method, called Non-Destructive Carbon Dating, could allow scientific analysis of hundreds of artifacts that until now were off limits because museums and private collectors did not want the objects damaged.
The key to silk's pound-for-pound toughness, which exceeds that of steel, is its beta-sheet crystals, the nano-sized cross-linking domains that hold the material together, say researchers writing in Nature Materials.

Using computer models, researchers simulated how the components of beta sheet crystals move and interact with each other. They found that an unusual arrangement of hydrogen bonds--the "glue" that stabilizes the beta-sheet crystals--play an important role in defining the strength of silk.

This weekend, over 10,000 chemists will descent upon San Francisco for the American Chemical Society national meeting.  For those of us

 A team of researchers has discovered how to efficiently turn carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide using visible light. The discovery opens the doors for scientists to explore what organism is out there – or could be created – to chemically break down the greenhouse gas into a useful form. The results are reported in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Does Spiderman get wet? The hunt has been on for some time now for what are called superhydrophobic surfaces.  These would be ideal for see-though surfaces such as windscreens and coating for solar cells, where any dirty water that splashes on will simply roll off it like the proverbial duck’s back.

 Can one make plastic from glucose?

The Primordial Soup theory of the origins of life on earth has been cooling for years. Probably, by now, it's too cold to reheat.

Abiogenesis, or the study of how life originated from Earth (and Universe) stuff, connects the Earth and Life sciences, for me.

A research team from the University College, London focused their new research into the origins of Earth life on deep sea vents, where geochemical gradients across microscopic caverns could have acted as catalytic cells, generating precursors of the carbon and energy metabolism found in all organisms, which the first true, free-floating living cells internalized, they conclude.

Scheikunde


is Dutch for Chemistry, and literally means "Separation Science".  Now, if one has a carpet made of 85% polypropylene and 15% wool, how does one go about separating them?

Have no fear!  Nature already has a solution.  I found these cocoons (about half a centimetre long) on the surface of said carpet, and decided to look at them under a video microscope.  This is what we saw:

VIDEO


As you can see, these caterpillars emerged from the cocoons and resumed their analysis, selectively removing the wool fibres from the polypropylene matrix. 

Northwestern University researchers have developed a new material that could help with the remediation of nuclear waste that behaves much like a Venus Flytrap, permanently trapping only its desired 'prey,' the radioactive ion cesium. The results were published online this week in Nature Chemistry.

The synthetic material, made from layers of a gallium, sulfur and antimony compound, is very selective. The researchers found it to be extremely successful in removing cesium -- found in nuclear waste but very difficult to clean up -- from a sodium-heavy solution. (The solution had concentrations similar to those in real liquid nuclear waste.)