Chemistry

Beer drinkers know that hops are what gives the drink its bitterness and aroma. Recently, scientists reported that the part of hops that isn't used for making beer contains healthful antioxidants and could be used to battle cavities and gum disease.

A new identified some of the substances that could be responsible for these healthful effects. 


Synthetic spider silk of fantastical, superhero strength is finally speeding toward commercial reality.

The material, which is five times stronger than steel, could be used in products from bulletproof vests to medical implants, according to an article in Chemical&Engineering News (C&EN).


Analysis of the wood from three 17th century shipwrecks in the Baltic Sea, the Ghost wreck, the Crown and the Sword, showed high concentrations of sulfur and iron using X-ray fluorescence (XRF) scanning.

Scientists from the same team have previously reported large amounts of sulfur and iron accumulation in the warship Vasa. In that study, the scientists found an outbreak of acidity and sulphate salts on the surface of the hull and other wooden objects.


A number of people are concerned about BPA in plastics but that is far less warranted than concern about plastics themselves. 

In 1967's "The Graduate", the following conversation took place between an older man and the young protagonist:

McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. 
Benjamin: Yes, sir. 
McGuire: Are you listening? 
Benjamin: Yes, I am. 
McGuire: Plastics.


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: