Chemicals & Chemistry

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.
Sometimes facts beat hype. This week was one of those times. The EPA, after years of compiling and evaluating data, declared that it would not approve labels for the herbicide glyphosate that contained a cancer warning. This puts the U.S. agency in direct opposition to California's absurd Proposition 65, which would require a cancer warning label on the chemical -- even though it would be incorrect. The U.S. now joins a dozen other countries that have already determined glyphosate is safe as used.
A story making headlines claims that this fast-food chain is using chemicals that could give you cancer. Ignore them. If you need something to worry about, then focus on possibly getting food poisoning from one of its burritos.
Did you ever pop open a Diet Coke, take a sip, and spit it out because it tastes like battery acid? The aspartame has gone "bad." But is that bad for you? Organic chemistry gives us the answer.
Chemistry can be amazing. A chemical isolated from a marine fungus reacts with the stinky chemicals in skunk spray. And it works just like the drug that is given to Tylenol-overdose victims. What can these possibly have in common? You'll find out if you ...
Last month, we discussed the risks associated with traveling to the Dominican Republic, where nine Americans died under mysterious circumstances. Now, a recent development should point investigators in a particular direction: a huge number of deaths in Costa Rica, linked to consuming alcohol adulterated with methanol, or wood alcohol.
It's mosquito season in the Northeast, following a very wet spring. Which means there are going to be (1) a whole bunch of mosquitoes, and (2) a whole bunch of people arguing about whether to spray them or not. The goal here is to examine the toxicology of Sumithrin -- the active ingredient in the commonly-used insecticide Anvil -- and come up with a realistic picture of whether it's a deadly poison, a non-toxic chemical ... or something in between. 
Nomenclature -- the "art" of naming organic chemicals -- is crazy making. Some chemical names are simple. Some are complex. What's more, saying the names of some chemicals makes you sound like a fourth grader. (And if that's not enough of a pull to get you to read this, there's a contest, too!)
A group of Japanese chemists may have come up with a game-changing solution to ocean plastic pollution. The group has created a plastic using acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin). The best part is that the "aspirin plastic" can easily be converted back to its starting material -- and this can be recovered and recycled to make fresh plastic. With little or no pollution. Very clever.