Chemistry

Human exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) has recently been linked to negative health claims, like a decline in reproductive function in adults and stunted neurodevelopment in children, and so people consumed with the 'natural' fallacy have been up in arms about it.  It hasn't quite become 'BPA causes autism' hysteria, like they did with vaccines, but it is getting close. 

Naturally, companies have listened to the nocebo worries of the natural-obsessed and dutifully created BPA-free products and charged more money for them.


Hemp plants with scientifically enhanced increase in oleic acid could lead to an attractive cooking oil that is similar to olive oil in terms of fatty acid content - but has a much longer shelf life as well as greater heat tolerance and hopefully a lot less fraud associated with it than olive oil has.

Using fast-track molecular plant breeding, the scientists selected hemp plants lacking the active form of an enzyme involved in making polyunsaturated fatty acids. These plants made less poly-unsaturated fatty acids and instead accumulated higher levels of the mono-unsaturated oleic acid. The research team used conventional plant breeding techniques to develop the plants into a “High Oleic Hemp” line and higher oleic acid content was demonstrated in a Yorkshire field trial.

The subject of endocrine disruption is not particularly new, with extensive scientific and regulatory attention to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) over the last 20 years or so. A common definition, from the World Health Organization/International Programme on Chemical Safety, is:

In a previous article I built a magnetic stirrer using littleBits and Erector set parts for the home laboratory. At the end of the article I added a design for a sample rotator (a device used to continuously mix lab samples). I have (somewhat) improved the design of the Erector set and littleBits sample rotator and in this article I document the build.

The Rotator ”Base”

Scholars writing in the Danish Journal of Archaeology say that "grog" dates back a lot farther than previously believed; to perhaps 1500 B.C. and in an area stretching from northwest Denmark to the Swedish island of Gotland.

Like most things, somewhere along the way the British navy has tried to take credit for it, so you often see it called a rum drink. Instead of being rum-based, ancient grog was a hybrid beverage made from whatever local ingredients they could turn into alcohol, including honey, bog cranberry, lingonberry, bog myrtle, yarrow, juniper, birch tree resin, wheat, barley rye — and sometimes even from grape wine imported from southern or central Europe.


Back in the day, some chemistry sets came with a mechanical centrifuge. They were operated similar to those old-timey pump style tin spinning toy tops. This is the style centrifuge that came with my chemistry set:


Note: I came up with this story idea long before I was able to find a second-hand salad spinner and now I can’t remember where I found this picture. I am unable to cite its source.

Here’s another example of a chemistry set centrifuge on Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories’ site:

While writing my series on the Science Play and Research Kit, I hoped to survey chemistry sets that are already on the market. I was able to get a reviewer’s sample of the Chem C3000 and you can take a look at my review of the Thames and Kosmos set here.

If you buy extra virgin olive oil, caveat emptor. Olive oil has been an avenue for corruption for hundreds and perhaps even thousands of years. Some extra virgin olive oil in studies was found to not only not be extra virgin, it wasn't even olive oil.

'Premium' chocolate has the same issue. Anyone can put Premium on a label and the only way to really know was to buy it and taste it - and if you bought it, you compounded the problem.


Platinum is used in catalytic converters to transform toxic fumes from a car's engine into more benign gases, to produce high octane gasoline, plastics and synthetic rubbers, and to fight the spread of cancerous tumors. But it's not cheap, which you know if you have ever shopped for an engagement ring knows. 

In a new study, researchers from Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering used computational methods to identify dozens of platinum-group alloys that were previously unknown to science but could prove beneficial in a wide range of applications. If one of the compounds identified in the new study is comparable in performance but easier on the wallet, it would be a boon to many industries worldwide as well as the environment. 


Though table salt, sodium chloride (NaCl), is one of the best-known and most studied chemical compounds known, it still has a few mysteries.

Under ambient conditions, it crystallizes in a cubic unit cell and is very stable with one sodium atom (Na) and one chlorine atom (Cl). According to the octet rule, all chemical elements strive to fill their outermost shell with eight electrons, which is the most stable configuration, found in noble gases. Sodium has one extra electron and chlorine is missing one, so sodium donates one electron to chlorine, leaving both atoms with an outer shell containing eight electrons and forming a strong ionic bond.