Hot off the Press

A couple of recent articles in the science section of the BBC have caught my eye lately. The first one I read a few days ago or so ago concerned the atmosphere of Mars. It turns out that over time, most of the Martian atmosphere has been lost into space (how, I’m not too sure) but what caught my eye was the method used to determine the rate of loss of gas in the atmosphere to space. I have written about a ...

It’s that time of year

So here we are, April is with us and in the UK Spring is most definitely here. Which means one thing if you are in the second year of the IB diploma … exams. This year, the exams in chemistry start on the afternoon of Thursday 11th May (paper 1 and 2) followed by the morning of Friday 12th May for paper 3. Which, depending on when you read this, gives you around four weeks until the examination. So, how is your ...

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, ...

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 ...

Osmium (Os)

By Wednesday, January 18, 2017 , , 0

Osmium (Os), is a metal found in IUPAC group 8, with a relative atomic mass of 190.2. Just over 12 years ago the BBC1 announced that intelligence agents in the UK and USA had foiled a plot to make a 'dirty bomb' that would have involved the explosion of Osmium Oxide (OsO4). What was slightly unusual about this new article was that it did acknowledge that Osmium Oxide was extremely expensive and only really available to research institutions. In other words, ...

Planetary Round Up

Saturn’s hexagon – have you heard of it? It is quite easy to see from the above images – and isn’t it amazing? A near perfect, natural hexagon of immense proportions. The sides of the hexagon are estimated to be nearly 14,000km in length – to put that into perspective, the diameter of the earth is a mere 12,700km! It does remind me of a quote from the film Prometheus (“God doesn’t build in straight lines”) but let’s not go down that ...