beer

The chemistry of gasoline is not as simple as you'd think. In the absence of additives, your engine will knock itself into oblivion (See: Octane Rating And Lead: Explaining The Chemistry Of Gasoline). Over the years, a number of anti-knocking additives have been used, including one that, in hindsight, was a terrible idea: tetraethyllead (the lead in leaded gasoline). More recently methyl t-butyl (MTBE) was used until it was discovered that the chemical was water soluble (duh) and accumulated in groundwater. Tetraethyllead was banned in 1996 and MTBE hasn't been used since 2005.

At this time almost all...

Time for a chemistry lesson.

For people who enjoy beer and football (be it the American or European variety), autumn is perhaps the best time of the year. The hot summer has ended, the football season is beginning, and the leaves are turning brilliant shades of amber -- not unlike the cold brewsky on tap. And for many, the climactic event of these annual rituals is the beer-swilling festival called Oktoberfest. 

Beer, one of the world's favorite beverages, is chemically complex. Many different molecules are responsible for the wide variety of tastes and colors associated with beer. Of these, perhaps some of the least studied are the molecules that are produced as a result of the Maillard reaction. This reaction, famous in kitchens all over the world, is responsible for the "browning" of meats and bread that...

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