Archives for category: Chemistry

Tea is made of 30,000 different chemicals, and according to researchers, it needs to brew for five minutes (ideally in a pot) rather than a couple of minutes in a cup to allow the complex flavours to come through. The Telegraph

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Chinese researchers believe they have created the lightest material ever made – even lighter than the one made last year by German chemists. It’s so light that a grass can bear it without bending. It can absorb 900 times its own weight and could help with cleaning up oil spills.

carbon aerogel

A company in Bristol has used carbon dioxide and hydrogen to make methanol, which can then be processed into petrol. They have made five litres so far.

A single atom can throw a shadow, and researchers have captured it as an image.

The shadow of an atom

Credit: Centre for Quantum Dynamics

Thanks to Mr Barlow’s Blog.

Gibbons who inhale helium sing like sopranos. Researchers looked at the vocal cords of gibbons that had inhaled helium and saw that they could control their vocal tracts in the same way that soprano singers can – this was thought to to be unique to humans. See the original research in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Helium is a natural gas that cannot be synthesised, and it is vital for MRI scanners and radiation monitors. There is a helium shortage worldwide, and it could run out in 25-30 years. Because of a US law passed in 1996, according to Robert Richardson, professor of physics at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, helium became too cheap to recycle, and was no longer regarded as precious.  Professor Richardson believes that our reserves of helium have been “squandered”.

Some of the Olympic venue sites have been cleaned up using bioremediation as part of one of the world’s largest brownfield regeneration projects. Brownfield sites are previous industrial sites and include the Aquatic Centre, where the ground was contaminated with lubricating oil. The process used indigenous microbes to aerobically biodegrade the oil, supported with REGENESIS’ Advanced Oxygen Release Compound, which released oxygen over 12 months.

Olympic Games 27 July – 12 August

Olympic gold medals are not all gold and haven’t been since 1912. They are 1.34% gold, 92.5% silver and the rest is copper. Silver medals are also 92.5% percent silver, with the rest copper, and the bronze medals are 97% copper, 2.5% zinc and 0.5% tin.

London 2012 Olympic medals designed by British artist David Watkins

Olympic medals. Source: London 2012

Olympic Games 27 July – 12 August

Olympicene is a synthetic five-ring polyaromatic hydrocarbon created by researchers at the University of Warwick that looks like the Olympic rings. It has electronic and optical properties.

Olympic Games 27 July – 12 August

As always, Olympics opening ceremonies include fireworks and today’s was no exception. Fireworks use a lot of science – for example, particle sizes control the rate of burn, different colours are created by using different metals, and the sounds and shapes depend on how the chemicals are packed.

Olympic Games 27 July – 12 August

The periodic table was developed in 1869, and predicted the existence of elements not known at the time – the latest of these was discovered in 2010.

From 20 Things You Didn’t Know About… The Periodic Table from Discover Magazine

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