Chemicals & Chemistry

The tragic accident, when a restaurant manager in Massachusetts died, was the result of a simple chemical reaction called neutralization. That's when an acid and a base are combined. Unfortunately in this case, the base was sodium hypochlorite, or bleach. When bleach is acidified, deadly chlorine is released. It's a terrible shame this young manager wasn't aware of this fatal combination. So you can stay safe, here's what to look out for.
Some chemicals are so dangerous that even experienced chemists hate to use them. Here's a real doozy. Diazomethane is an explosive, highly toxic gas, which is a carcinogen. It is made from another toxic carcinogen and the chemical that makes Drano work. Aside from that, it's just fine.
If you're driving around the southwest and find yourself in the middle of nowhere, pay attention. That's because you never know when you might be near a place of historic significance. There's just such a place in the Arizona desert called Chloride, and here's how it got its name. And a little chemistry lesson (at no extra charge).
Instead of getting a flu shot, a Columbia University professor who believes in natural remedies chose a "tincture of elderberry." Her effort was rewarded with cyanide poisoning.
The mystery of vaping deaths widens. What is going on? Let's ask Steve. We go back a long way, so when a tricky chemistry problem comes up we like to fire off an email, to pick his warped brain. Often he is right on the mark.
The premise of the "alkaline diet" is to alter the pH levels of your blood, in order to facilitate weight loss and fight disease. Too bad then that "alkalizing” the body is a completely nonsensical concept.
Although no official cause of serious, vaping-related lung injuries has been established, chemistry can enable us to make a reasonable guess. And it all goes back to a simple procedure that you may have done in high school chem lab: distillation.
There is wide divergence on the safety assessment of these chemicals, thus making communication with the public extremely difficult.
A group from University of Arizona's College of Biomedical Engineering has figured out how to turn a smartphone into an analytical instrument. It's capable of measuring an insanely small quantity of norovirus – the bug the causes viral gastroenteritis. Water samples can now be checked for viral contamination. Very clever, indeed.
As the rational world continues its descent into madness, the (mis)use of homeopathy seems to be spreading like wildfire. In an attempt to limit antibiotic use in animals, an E.U. group is proposing that homeopathy be used instead. By why stop there? Wouldn't homeopathic grass save a lot of acreage? Or even better, wouldn't a homeopathic cow require neither antibiotics nor grass? Spolier: Stupid alert.
A new video released by the magazine attempts to explain why there are more obese Americans today than 30-40 years ago. It claims that even if people eat healthy and exercise, it's easier to be obese today because of three factors -- but only one of those is likely to be correct.
The media just handed fluoride conspiracy theorists a gift on a giant silver platter: Multiple outlets are reporting that pregnant women who consume too much fluoride produce children with lower IQs. The reports are based on an extremely controversial study just published in JAMA Pediatrics. Are the study's conclusions true? It's doubtful.