chemistry

Gatorade needs a better marketing team.

This past Saturday, during a commercial break for college football, Gatorade ran a very curious advertisement. The ad contained a diagram of an organic molecule that, if it actually existed, would probably be dangerous. You certainly wouldn't be drinking it.

Below is a screenshot of the ad. There are multiple problems with the molecule, as noted by the numbers superimposed over the image.

Organic Chemistry for Marketing Majors

Problem #1. Whoever drew this molecule doesn't know the first thing about organic chemistry. This molecule cannot exist. The middle of the molecule...

Kurt Eichenwald is an interesting guy -- in the same way that a 47-car pileup on the freeway is interesting. He is, according to his Twitter bio, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and a New York Times bestselling author. He also has written for Newsweek, where he penned one of the best essays I have ever read about conspiracy theories.

You would think that a man with such enormous influence would wield it with great responsibility. But you would be wrong. Last year, he tweeted -- without any evidence whatsoever -- that he believed Donald Trump...

Dr. Gregory House was fond of saying, "Everybody lies." In the food industry, that maxim could be modified to, "Everybody cheats."

Indeed, food fraud is absolutely rampant. In some parts of the world, beef hot dogs may contain buffalo. Cheese labeled Parmigiano-Reggiano may not be authentic. Phony seafood is especially notorious. And now, new research indicates that extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) may not be the pure, wholesome maiden you've been anticipating for your dinner night.

What Is Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)?

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Initial reports suggest that Kim Jong-Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, was murdered with VX, a type of agent used in chemical warfare. What is it, and how does it work?

VX is an organophosphate, a generic name for any molecular compound that contains carbon and phosphate (i.e., ions made of phosphorus and oxygen atoms). Organophosphates are found everywhere. Life-giving molecules like DNA are organophosphates, but so are some pesticides and nerve agents. Given the structure of VX (which includes a sulfur atom), it is more specifically a phosphonothioate. (See image on right.)

VX...

Useless trivia item for a Wednesday:

Whether you are choosing 87, 89, or 93-octane rated gasoline, you're not buying octane. Why? Because if you were actually putting octane into your car, it would screw it up big time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The "octane" rating of gasoline actually measures the amount of an additive called isooctane. The two are isomers- they have the same chemical formula but different structures and properties. Octane is a chain of eight contiguous carbon atoms. Isooctane has chain of five contiguous and three "branched" carbon atoms. Both are hydrocarbons. The...

Chemists have a variety of reasons for synthesizing things. Sometimes it can be purely academic or exploratory. Other times it can be to provide life-saving drugs (See: Semisynthetic: A *Real* Word That Saves Lives"). Often, research groups will compete to be the first to synthesize a particular molecule. And others will try to provide practical solutions, such as discovering new materials for semiconductors. One rather obscure niche involves finding better explosives.

For more than a century, maniacs have been trying to synthesize a simple chemical called pentazole—a substance that is so unstable that it blows up even when you draw the structure on paper. 

But, a Chinese group just...

Alternative medicine is like an "alternative fact." If it was real, then the word "alternative" wouldn't be necessary. 

Yet, occasionally, alternative medicine gets something right. Though uncommon, investigations sometimes demonstrate that an herbal remedy used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has a legitimate biological or chemical basis. A fungus harvested from termite nests, for instance, has been traditionally used to treat depression and insomnia. Now, Taiwanese scientists think they have discovered a plausible scientific rationale for this practice.

The team cultured the fungus Xylaria nigripes (also called Wu Ling Shen) in the laboratory and then performed a chemical extraction to obtain biologically active compounds. (This...

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who eat bugs knowingly and those who eat bugs unknowingly. Oh yes, you eat bugs. Even vegans eat bugs.

While farmers and food processors want our grub to be pure, it is impossible to eliminate every single contaminant in the food supply. Crops are covered with insects, and little can be done to prevent a leg here or an antenna there from making its way into the final product.

The FDA is fully aware of this and even has a handbook that describes the allowable level of food "defects." Peanut butter, for example, can have up to 30 insect fragments per 3.5 ounces.

Wine, too, is not immune to this nuisance. Brown...

By Jeanna Bryner, Live Science

Four new chemical elements now have official names and symbols, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) announced this week.

After a five-month review, IUPAC chemists have approved the four names for superheavy elements 113, 115, 117 and 118 proposed by the elements' discoverers. Such superheavy elements, whose atomic numbers indicate how many protons reside in each nucleus, don't occur naturally in nature, so they must be created in labs.

Following tradition, the names needed to honor a place, geographic region or scientist, with the name endings following specific protocols related to each element's placement on the ...

Many natural remedies do not work. Despite those who swear by herbal medicines and other traditions that stretch back, in some cases, thousands of years, modern science often cannot verify the claimed benefits. But that isn't always the case. Occasionally, scientists confirm that a traditional remedy indeed does work, and one such example has been reported recently in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Native Americans who burned sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata) tended to do so for ceremonial purposes. However, some had a more practical use in mind. Two groups of Native Americans, the Flatheads of Montana and the Blackfoot of Alberta, used sweetgrass as an insect repellent. They did so by burning the grass and allowing the smoke to saturate their...