VX – What is it?

Over this last month or so, the nerve agent VX has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons but I did think it was worth looking at the chemistry of this molecule in this moths blog post. The obvious question is what is it? VX, or, to use the full IUPAC name is actually Ethyl ({2-ethyl}sulfanyl)(methyl)phosphinate. It is referred to as VX as it is a ‘V’ series of nerve agents (‘V’ stands for venom) and was first syntheiszed in the ...

Man Made Minerals

This blog post was inspired by a recent BBC article I read on minerals. The full article can be found here if you would like to read more (after you have read this blog post, of course!): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-39133897 It has recently been announced that over 200 ‘new’ minerals (4% of the total known minerals) have been discovered – these minerals own their existence to us. As strange as it sounds, human behaviour has led to the formation of these substances. To me, ...

Metallic Hydrogen and Scepticism

Scientists are supposed to be sceptical of others claims – you will encounter this in NOS (NOS 1.7 ‘Scientists must adopt a sceptical attitude to claims’). Why do I quote this? Well, you may have recently read or seen in the news that a new form (state) of Hydrogen has been produced. Hydrogen has been subjected to incredibly high pressure (495GPa or 495,000,000,000Pa – that’s 495 billion Pa). By contrast, standard atmospheric pressure is around 100,000Pa so this value is getting ...

Teaching Born Haber Cycles

I must admit, this is not my favourite topic to teach but it’s something I am working at. What I want to focus on here is not necessarily the cycle – I’m assuming you are OK with this. I’d rather focus this blog post on two other trends that can be identified using the data book: How lattice enthalpies vary according to: Size of the ion Charge of the ion I will also be referring to table 18 of the data book, ...

Become a Future Science Leader!

No matter whether you’re an aspiring Biologist, Physicist, Chemist, or inventor, the IB Diploma is a fantastic stepping stone to studying your subject at university. However, an ambitious student can be left directionless with so many choices and questions – which subject should I follow? How do I break in to the science industry? With that question in mind our academics set about creating the perfect course for aspirant scientists - “Future Science Leader”. What is it? Future Science Leaders is a new ...

Biochemistry Option B – London forces in fat and oils (Lipids topic)

Firstly, before I forget, a very Happy New Year to all of my readers, wherever in the world you may be! Lipids are covered in the Biochemistry Option (Option B). They are large organic molecules that are not soluble in water. They are studies as they have a number of different uses in living systems, for example triglycerides (fats and oils), phospholipids (cell membranes) and cholesterol. Fats and oils have essentially to same overall structure. The difference between them is that fats ...

Chemical Warfare

Firstly, and before I forget, a very Happy New Year to all of my readers! I hope you had a good one wherever in the world you are. I have been meaning to write this for a while but other blog posts seem to get in the way! The post was developed after I read a news article about CS gas being accidently sprayed at London City Airport towards the end of October last year (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/21/london-city-airport-evacuated-after-chemical-incident/) I should point out that CS ...

C3L6 (Cambridge Chemistry Challenge)

Have you heard of the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge? If not, it is definitely worth a look (http://c3l6.com). The website is primarily aimed at UK students in the ‘lower 6th’ – this is equivalent of IB1 but the chemistry itself is very worthy of all IB students and is open to students in the UK and from around the world. In order to fully access the website you will need to register (for free) – if you don’t want to do this though, ...

The Halogens and the Sea

There are a few references to lab work in this post – I do need to stress that any labs you carry out need to be under the supervision of one of your teachers (and risk assessed by the teacher) and carried out in school. I have always been fascinated by the link with the number of substances dissolved in the sea. For example, gold ions are dissolved in the sea and it is estimated that there are getting on for ...

Carbon Neutral Fuels

Please note: The blog post works on the premise that you understand that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and it is one of the molecules responsible for global warming. ‘Carbon neutral’ is a fairly common phrase we tend to see quite regularly today. I noticed that ‘Sky’ (the TV company) markets itself as a carbon neutral company. Another carbon related phrase is ‘offsetting carbon’ – so if you fly with BA you can pay extra and offset your carbon footprint….. But ...