Tag Archives: chemistry

Cosmic rays cause the red in Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

New ground-based chemistry research suggests that the bombardment of cosmic rays in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere could be the cause of the red color of the gas giant’s Great Red Spot.

They found that one of the spot’s major components, ammonium hydrosulfide, breaks down when exposed to that radiation in such a way that it turns red. They also think that ultraviolet radiation, also prevalent in space, will do the same.

Self-healing composite developed

Scientists have produced a small amount of a self-healing solid composite that not only remembers its shape but can, under certain conditions, heal itself should it break or crack.

Don’t get out your checkbook yet. This is only the preliminary research, though the concepts look very promising.

Using bath salts to make solar cells

Engineers have discovered they can replace a toxic material used to manufacture one type of solar cell with simple bath salts.

The chemical used is also used to make tofu. It costs far less to buy, and its benign nature means it also costs far less to use as well. This could significantly lower the cost for making these solar cells, though two companies quoted in the article seemed skeptical.

The press lets Curiosity get the better of them

The big news is out. Today the eagerly awaited press conference at the American Geophysical Society meeting in San Francisco on the recent results from the Mars rover Curiosity was finally held. The announced results had been hyped like crazy when rumors began to spread a few weeks ago that Curiosity had discovered something truly spectacular.

Well, here are some of the headlines heralding the results.
» Read more

Why “chemical-free” organic food is impossible, and why journalists should know better.

Why “chemical-free” organic food is impossible, and why journalists should know better.

And in a related story, a science journalist tears apart a bad press release and the press-release-journalists who bought it, lock, stock, and barrel.

The disappearance of the old-fashioned chemistry set.

The disappearance of the old-fashioned chemistry set.

Here’s what it used to be like, when we lived in a free society:

By the 1920s and 30s children had access to substances which would raise eyebrows in today’s more safety-conscious times. There were toxic ingredients in pesticides, as well as chemicals now used in bombs or considered likely to increase the risk of cancer. And most parents will not need to be told of the dangers of the sodium cyanide found in the interwar kits or the uranium dust present in the “nuclear” kits of the 1950s.

An new material has claimed the record as the world’s lightest solid.

An new material has claimed the record as the world’s lightest solid.

Developed by a team from the Technical University of Hamburg and Germany’s University of Kiel, the material is composed of 99.99 percent air, along with a three-dimensional network of porous carbon nanotubes that were grown into each other. Aerographite has a density of less than 0.2 milligrams per cubic centimeter, which allows it be compressed by a factor of 1,000, then subsequently spring back to its original state. Despite its extremely low density, it is black and optically-opaque in appearance. By contrast, the density of metallic microlattice sits at 0.9 mg per cubic centimeter.

An archeology discovery in Africa suggests that Stone Age humans had an understanding of basic chemistry

An archeology discovery in Africa suggests that Stone Age humans had an understanding of some basic but complicated chemistry.

Archaeologists have found evidence that, as long ago as 100,000 years, people used a specific recipe to create a mixture based on the iron-rich ochre pigment. The findings, published in the journal Science, “push back by 20,000 or 30,000 years” the evidence for when Homo sapiens evolved complex cognition, says Christopher Henshilwood of the universities of Bergen in Norway and Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, who led the work. “This isn’t just a chance mixture, it is early chemistry. It suggests conceptual and probably cognitive abilities which are the equivalent of modern humans,” he says.