Category Archives: Chemistry

Favorite Reaction – SN2

My all-time favorite chemical reaction has to be the SN2. This may sound like a cop-out answer to Rachel Pepling’s question, since the SN2 is arguably the second* simplest organic reaction ever, almost more a mechanistic step than a reaction … Continue reading

Posted in Chemistry, Chemistry Basics | 1 Comment

A Deuterated Mouse: Isotopes and Phys. Org.

What would happen, hypothetically, if a baby mouse could grow up eating only deuterated food and water? Could you make an unusually heavy mouse?

Posted in Chemistry, Chemistry Basics, Fun Stuff | 19 Comments

Sour Patch Kids are Full of Protons

Take a look at the ingredient list on the back of a Sour Patch Kids bag the next time you go to the movie theater, and you probably won’t be surprised to discover that this gummy candy contains a lot … Continue reading

Posted in Chemistry, Chemistry Basics, Fun Stuff | 5 Comments

You know you spend too much time in the lab when…

I hope I’m not the only chemist who frequently wakes up in the morning to realize I’d just been wasting my sleep time by dreaming about chemistry. Kekule famously dreamt , but mine – so far – have been just … Continue reading

Posted in Chemistry, Fun Stuff | 6 Comments

Low Hanging Fruit

This past week, I met with a visiting professor who commented that chemistry research is harder and more complex than it used to be. Most of the “low-hanging fruit” has already been picked, and the major problems facing chemistry today … Continue reading

Posted in Chemistry, Fun Stuff, Old Chemistry | 1 Comment

Chemistry of Morphine, Heroin, and Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

You’ve heard the warnings – don’t eat poppy seeds before taking a drug test. The seeds can trigger a false positive reading for opioids, making your potential employer think you could be a heroin addict. A few years back, Mythbusters … Continue reading

Posted in Chemistry, Fun Stuff, Medicine | 26 Comments

A Lexicon of Chemistry Terms to Review Before Attending Your Kid’s Thesis Defense

Hypothetically, let’s say that (1) I graduate someday and (2) my parents come out for my thesis defense. Since I am, in fact, not curing cancer, I fear that my defense will be a snoozer for any non-chemists such as … Continue reading

Posted in Chemistry, Chemistry Basics | 2 Comments

A Proposed Modification to the English Language

A Question I begin this post with a serious question, particularly for non-chemists. If I say the following to you, does it make sense? I would love to be done with my taxes by now, but there’s such a high … Continue reading

Posted in Chemistry, Chemistry Basics, Fun Stuff | 12 Comments

Animals and Aminals (and two kinds of metathesis)

Unless Even if you’ve been living under a rock, you know what an animal is. But do you know what an aminal is? Well, it’s two things: (1) A metathesis of the word “animal” (2) A chemistry term for a … Continue reading

Posted in Chemistry, Chemistry Basics, Fun Stuff | 2 Comments

Those Devilish CO2 Bubbles

If you’ve ever stared pensively into a , then you probably have a good mental picture of what CO2 bubbles look like. Tiny little things that wiggle their way up or cling to the sides of the glass… nothing terribly … Continue reading

Posted in Chemistry | 4 Comments

Reliable Information is Written Respectfully

This is part 3 of a 3ish part series on navigating the language of chemicals. Read an introduction, part 1, part 2, and part 2.5 if you wish. When researching the chemicals in a product, the curious consumer will most … Continue reading

Posted in Chemistry, Chemistry Basics, Communication | 3 Comments

In Defense of Aldehydes

Consider this an unscheduled footnote to part 2 of the ongoing 3 part series on navigating the language of chemicals. Read an introduction, Part 1, and Part 2 if you wish; Part 3 should appear on Monday. While reading about … Continue reading

Posted in Chemistry, Chemistry Basics, Communication | 6 Comments

Myths, Hyperboles, and Buzzwords about Chemicals

This is part 2 of a 3 ± 1 part series on navigating the language of chemicals. Read an introduction and part 1 if you wish. Efforts to make sense of the health and safety information for any given product … Continue reading

Posted in Chemistry, Chemistry Basics, Communication | 20 Comments

What Is – And What Isn’t – A Chemical

This is Part 1 of a 3 ± 2 part series on navigating the language of chemicals. Please see this earlier post for an introduction. If you try to look up the ingredients in Suave shampoo – Google search Suave … Continue reading

Posted in Chemistry, Chemistry Basics | 17 Comments

Blinged-Out Fat Blob Nanotrucks for Targeted Drug Delivery

Targeted drug delivery is a popular area of research that melds together the disciplines of chemistry, medicine, and materials. The basic idea is to develop ways to give a person a and somehow get that medicine to go to exactly … Continue reading

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Through the Looking Glass

Someday in the distant future, I hope to be able to explain my own research project to my parents without making up lies about how I’m curing cancer. Perhaps if they understand my chemistry a bit, they won’t feel the … Continue reading

Posted in Chemistry, Chemistry Basics | 18 Comments

Brazilian Blowout’s New Formula, sans Methylene Glycol

It’s been a while since we heard news about Brazilian Blowout, the controversial hair straightening treatment that brings up the philosophical question “What does it mean to be formaldehyde?”

Posted in Brazilian Blowout, Chemistry | 99 Comments

Organic Chemistry Lessons, Courtesy of Hippo et al.

Animal secretions (gross) often contain molecules that perform clever functions.  Here are a few examples, accompanied by morsels of chemistry facts.

Posted in Biology, Chemistry, Chemistry Basics | Comments Off

Periodic Table of the Stock Market

While researching investment choices for my new I’m-trying-to-be-a-responsible-adult Roth IRA, I eventually grew impatient with analyst predictions and just started searching for interesting ticker symbols.

Posted in Chemistry, Fun Stuff | 8 Comments

Salting the Roads – More Complicated Than It Sounds

I grew up in a HOT climate (below), where we didn’t have to deal with the kind of weather that we have right now in most of the country. Back home, occasional road signs near overpasses nonchalantly suggest that “Ice … Continue reading

Posted in Chemicals Among Us, Chemistry, Current Events | 1 Comment