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Posts Tagged "Chemistry"

Anecdotes from the Archive

Happy 100th Birthday to the Crossword

inboxex part of grid Screen Shot 2013-11-09 at 4.11.06 PM

On this day a hundred years ago, a journalist named Arthur Wynne published what is widely regarded as the first modern crossword puzzle. It appeared in the New York World, where it was called a “Word-Cross Puzzle.” By the 1930s most newspapers in America featured the games as well. Scientific American put a toe in [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

Scents Around Us

At seventeen I discovered the perfume that would become my signature scent. It’s a warm, rich, inviting fragrance[i] that reminds me (and hopefully others) of a rose garden in full bloom. Despite this fullness, it’s light enough to wear all day and it’s been in the background of many of my life experiences. It announces [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Science in Action Winner for 2013: Elif Bilgin

Elif Bilgin, winner of the 2013 Science in Action award, a $50,000 prize sponsored by Scientific American as part of the Google Science Fair.

“Genius,” Thomas Edison famously said, “is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” He would have found a kindred spirit in Elif Bilgin, 16, of Istanbul, Turkey, winner of the 2013 $50,000 Science in Action award, part of the third annual Google Science Fair. The award honors a project that can make a practical difference [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Hanging Out with Nobel Prize Winner Sir Harold Kroto

What is it like to win a Nobel Prize? Should you worry about picking something “important” to work on as a scientist? How can art help in trying to understand how the universe works? And what is the real key to success? You can find out by watching today’s Google Science Fair Hangout with Sir [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

The Banana That Gave Its All for Science [Video]

Magicians need to resort to trick props to pull a rabbit out of a hat. But we pulled DNA out of a banana with nothing more than a few household ingredients during a Scientific American Google Hangout on December 20. (See Scientific American Goes Bananas on December 20. No artifice or foolery was involved: just [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Meet the Science in Action Finalists

Who will win the first $50,000 Science in Action prize, sponsored by Scientific American? This award, offered as part of the 2012 Google Science Fair, will recognize a student project that addresses a social, environmental, ethical, health or welfare issue to make a practical difference to the lives of a group or community, and that [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

2012 Google Science Fair Begins: What’s Your Question?

“As any adult knows, there’s one thing that any kid can do better than any grown up: ask questions. In fact, many studies have actually shown how kids are born scientists. If you don’t believe me, watch a baby first accidentally knock something off her high chair and onto the floor. She’ll look at it [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Scientific American Defends Marie Curie—and Women Scientists—in 1911

One of the pleasures of editing a magazine like Scientific American, with its 166-year history as the country’s longest continuously published magazine, is getting a “you are there” view of science as it was whenever I take a spin through our digital archives. The other day, while reading some 100-year-old prose, I was reminded of [...]

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Food Matters

Pumpkin, hold the spice

Image courtesy of Pam Ronald / UC-Davis

Feel that chill in the air? Must be Fall, and with the change in seasons comes the latest food craze: pumpkin spice. Now, I’m hardly the first person to notice this. The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Salon have all recently weighed in on the growing flavor mania.* Alas, most pieces set [...]

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Food Matters

Breaking Food Down

Original Image U. Huddersfield.

What is food? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary entry says “Something that nourishes, sustains, or supplies.” How beautiful. That statement captures much of the emotion and feeling surrounding food, yet it’s only part of the full definition. So where does food begin? As with most big questions, it depends who you ask. Let’s start down the reductive [...]

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Guest Blog

The Frustrations of Being Scientifically Literate

Life's dirty little secret. (Credit: Debaird via Flickr)

Editors note: Craig Fay will be appearing live at the Laughing Devil Comedy Festival in New York City May 14-18. Here’s a theory for you: ignorance is bliss. If that’s true then being scientifically literate has got to be one of the most miserable and frustrating things possible. And when you think about it that [...]

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Guest Blog

A View to a Kill in the Morning: Carbon Dioxide

In 1940, inspired by a tragic accident, a New York pathologist came up with the scenario for a perfect murder. His idea was based on the deaths of five longshoremen, their bodies found in the cargo hold of a steamer docked on the East River. The boat had been carrying cherries from Michigan. The men [...]

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Guest Blog

Drugs from the Crucible of Nature

The skinned knee is a hallmark of childhood summers. After the tears are kissed away, a time-honored ritual follows: a few squirts of a pain killing spray, a good slather of antibiotic ointment, an adhesive bandage, and then back to the neighborhood for more rites of passage. The venerable tools of this healing ceremony may [...]

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Guest Blog

What’s In A Name? For Chemists, Their Field’s Soul

By 1992, the Soviet Union was formally dissolved, and the entire world’s political, economic, and military alliances were in the throes of transformation. But you could forgive officials at the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) if they didn’t notice much of a difference. At the time, they were still embroiled in a [...]

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Guest Blog

Cooking up some chemistry inside a cell

Think back to your last chemistry class. (This might have been some time ago.) For most of you, you were likely 16 or 17 years old. When I was 16 or 17, I was thinking about some girl, or football, or a party, or … some girl. I certainly wasn’t focused on chemistry. And, chances [...]

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Guest Blog

All that glisters is not gold: Quality of Public Domain Chemistry Databases

Shakespeare wrote "All that glisters is not gold" and how right he was. Whether it’s the before and after shots of models who have lost an incredible 10 pounds in just two days on a particular pill, or the couch potato who showed a six pack of abs in just 2 weeks after drinking some [...]

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Guest Blog

Chemistry: The Human Science

A tiny molecule harvested from a soil bacterium on Easter Island that evolved billions of years ago for no obvious purposes should have nothing to do with human beings. Yet it turns out miraculously to have potent immunosuppressive properties that allow doctors to successfully perform a liver transplant in a young girl. Figure 1: A [...]

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Guest Blog

Dear chemists

Happy International Year of Chemistry. We hope things go well with your effort to increase public appreciation of chemistry and increase the interest of young people in chemistry and generate enthusiasm for the creative future of chemistry. Fat chance that’s going to get us to relax, though. Sure we know that chemistry has produced some [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Favorite nuclear flavors

Light or heavy? The nuclear choice

On the heels of #SciAmChem day I thought I’d pull a post from the Life, Unbounded archives that could use a little airing and has a chemical slant. It’s all about the isotopic favoritism that organisms, or at least some of them, display. I’ve not heard more about the particular, and surprising, heavy isotope preference [...]

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Life, Unbounded

The molecules that made the universe

Imagine a molecule...

“We are starstuff”, it’s a well-used phrase in popular astronomy (yes, we are. The nuclei of most heavy atoms in your body were forged long before our solar system existed, a million kilometers down inside the cores of long-since-gone massive stars). “We contain matter as old as the universe” (absolutely. Pretty much all the hydrogen [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

Calling It Sex When They Mean Love

Always kiss me goodnight. (Credit: Courtney Carmody/Flickr)

The saying “Why do they call it love when they mean sex?” is often used when a person feels a strong physical attraction toward another person and they camouflage it as love or a special connection. Though it’s common, the opposite phenomenon, where sex means love, also exists and it’s slowly becoming more common, especially [...]

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Observations

Movies Made inside a Living Cell [Video]

A new microscope can show chromosomes moving within a cell or tiny changes in a growing embryo.

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Observations

Ability to See Single Molecules Gets Chemistry Nobel

proteins in a cell

Stefan W. Hell, Eric Betzig, and William Moerner share the prize for developing new ways to see inside a cell.

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Observations

3 Ingredients Make Good July 4th Fireworks [Video]

How different types of chemicals combine for a holiday blast.

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Observations

Don’t Go in the Water: The Chemistry of Pee in the Pool [Video]

pool

Pee in a swimming pool could start an unpleasant chemical reaction with chlorine

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Observations

A New Chemical Recipe Raises Prospect of Inexpensive Fuel

metal-organic framework

Lab-made molecule can transform components of natural gas

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Observations

Human Antibodies Given Sharklike Armor to Fight Disease

A swimming shart

Human therapeutic antibodies often break down. Now chemists have grafted on more rugged features, taken from sharks

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Observations

Reaction in Action: Before and After Pictures at the Atomic Level

hydrocarbon-reaction

Imagine watching a chemical reaction in real time: atoms breaking bonds with their neighbors and forming new arrangements as heat or pressure changes. That’s what scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California, Berkeley came close to achieving in these images. Using an atomic-force microscope the researchers captured before and after images [...]

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Observations

Supernova Dust Fell to Earth in Antarctic Meteorites

Antarctic meteorite

Two primitive meteorites collected in Antarctica appear to contain grains of silica—the stuff of quartz and sand—forged in an ancient supernova that predates the birth of the solar system. In fact, some researchers believe that it was just such a stellar explosion that triggered the formation of the solar system from a cloud of dust [...]

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Observations

A Dash of Color Creates Camouflage for Spineless Robots

robot, Harvard

Late last year, Harvard University chemists and materials scientists introduced a robot whose rubbery appendages fly—or, more accurately, crawl—in the face of conventional automatons. These invertebrate-inspired albino bots relied on elastic polymers and pneumatic pumps to imitate the movements of worms, squid and starfish. Now these squishy quadrupeds can be pumped with a variety of [...]

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Observations

Researchers Engineer Rewriteable Digital Data Storage in the DNA of Living Bacteria

DNA

Engineers have invented a way to store a single rewriteable bit of data within the chromosome of a living cell—a kind of cellular switch that offers precise control over how and when genes are expressed. For three years, Jerome Bonnet, Pakpoom Subsoontorn, and Drew Endy of Stanford University tinkered with the switch in Escherichia coli [...]

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Symbiartic

The Chemistry of Cleaning Defaced Modern Art

Black_on_Maroon_grafmini

Restoring works of art isn’t exactly like restoring Vigo in Ghostbusters II. For one thing, the challenges can be great even on restoring works less than 100 years old. In this fantastic and brief video, chemist Sophia Cai describes how Dow Chemical worked with Tate Museum art restoration and conservation experts to return Mark Rothko’s [...]

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Symbiartic

Pinch of Pigment: Cobalt Blue

Maxfield_Parrish_-mini

Cobalt Blue is a fascinating colour with a much longer history than many pigments in use today. It’s also the only goblin hiding in the Periodic Table. Cobalt, is symbol Co on the periodic table with an atomic weight of 27. While in it’s natural, raw state it’s a somewhat burnished silver colour, it is [...]

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Symbiartic

Your Kitchen Is a Chem Lab and This Is Your Textbook

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Maybe you cook, maybe not, but I bet you eat from time to time. If you’re reading articles on Scientific American, I also bet you are at least partially interested in science, and whether you eat gazpacho or goulash, KFC or cronuts, you have to concede this point: cooking is essentially applied chemistry. The beauty [...]

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Symbiartic

Unchanging Art Supplies

Find the stone age pigment!

Technology in art supplies moves fast, and there are tons of amazing ways to enable new creative explorations appearing all the time. Wacom Inkling Pen. Lytro Light-Field Cameras. Terraskin paper made from stone. Innovations, especially digital ones, leave a swath of devastatingly outdated art materials in their wake. The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies curated [...]

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Symbiartic

What Does a Scientific Glass Blower Make?

11-006KleinBottleFeature

I came across so many interesting images last week researching my scientific glass blowing post that I thought I’d share a few more here. This is a blog about imagery after all, right? You’ll forgive my lack of song and dance, then? Michael Souza This is one of Michael Souza’s aluminosilicate creations. You’ll recall aluminosilicate [...]

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Symbiartic

The Chemistry of Oil Painting

ChemOilFeat

What chemical properties give oil paintings their luminous glow and deep darkness? Why do they crack? What kind of oil is used? Is it safe to use the oil painting medium on a fresh dandelion salad? As an oil painter for the past 17 years who used to manage at a fine art supply store [...]

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Talking back

Bhopal at 30: Lessons Still Being Learned

In 1989, I was working as an at editor at IEEE Spectrum when I was assigned to write a feature on Bhopal. The thirtieth anniversary of that industrial disaster that killed thousands is tonight. My article back then began: On arriving at work on Dec. 3, 1984, Rick Horner, a chemical safety engineer with the [...]

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Talking back

The Straight Dope: A Q&A with the Prof behind the Good Science in Breaking Bad

Since 1983, Donna J. Nelson has taught some 10,000 students as a professor of organic chemistry at the University of Oklahoma. Her research extends to characterizing carbon nanotubes and examining carbon–carbon double bonds every which way and even promoting chemistry education as a means to increase the number of chemists and chemical engineers in the [...]

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The Urban Scientist

Google Doodle Honors Chemist Dr. Percy Julian

percy-julians-115th-birthday-born-1899-5688801926053888-hp

April 11, 2014 would have been Dr. Julian Percy’s 115th Birthday and it was a beautiful site to behold – seeing today’s Google Doodle honoring the man and his science. “Dr. Julian’s story is a fascinating one and I encourage you to read over the ACS and Wikipedia entries. As you might imagine, he faced [...]

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The Urban Scientist

It’s National Chemistry Week: 2012 Theme is Nanotechnology

Happy National Chemistry Week! From October 21-27, 2012 Chemists, Chemical Engineers, Chemical Professionals and enthusiasts are celebrating how wonderful Chemistry is! And it is.  But I have to admit, I’m such a biologist – a whole organism, big animal and plant type – that anything I can’t see with my eyes or a hand lens [...]

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