Exploding trousers

In the 1930's, the New Zealand government declared to farmers that they had discovered the best ragwort killer. Ragwort, is a weed and the scourge of farmers.   The weed killer used high concentrations of sodium chlorate. This meant, unfortunately, that when it was used (in liquid form) it often came into contact with clothing. Clothes that were made of organic materials. The mixture was potentially lethal and if it came into close contact with a spark (or cigarette) it could possibly explode. Nowadays,  the ragwort flea ...

Images of atoms

There is a great article on the BBC website - it was published back in 2009 but shows some lovely images of atoms found in carbon nanotubes. You can read more and view the articles by clicking here. By Original hochgeladen von Schwarzm am 30. Aug 2004; Selbst gemacht mit C4D/Cartoonrenderer, GNU FDL [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons 

Funny named molecules (5) – Quadratic acid

I promise you - no more after this one!! Quadratic acid - also known as squaric acid! Has the formula C4H4O2 Image kindly reproduced according to the licence at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Squaric_acid.svg The molecule is a white crystalline solid at room temperature and its dibutyl ester is used in the treatment of warts! More can be read about quadratic acid at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadratic_acid Thanks for bearing with me in this mini themed week on unusually named molecules. Look out for more themed week in chemistry and across the ...

Funny named molecules (4) – Miraculin

Miraculin is a glyco-protein (glyco-proteins are made of amino acids and carbohydrates). Does it cause miracles though?! Well, in some ways, yes it does - but only small ones. After miraculin has been tasted, ordinarily sour foods taste sweet. However, miraculin is not sweet tasting in itself. It is extracted from the fruit  fruit of Synsepalum dulcificum and is a heat stable water soluble substance. As you can imagine, it is being touted as a potential sweetener in food and scientists are trying to mass produce it ...

Funny named molecules (3) – Draculin

By Wednesday, March 2, 2011 , , , , 0

Draculin This is a real molecule! It is a protein found in the saliva of vampire bats and is an anti-coagulant that is 100 times stronger than the anti-coagulants used in medicine. Image kindly reproduced according to the licence at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Desmodus.jpg The bat uses it to stop the blood of its victim from clotting whilst it is drinking. For more information, click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draculin

Traumatic Acid

Following on from yesterdays 'Moronic Acid', todays stupidly named molecule is 'Traumatic Acid' Image kindly reproduced according to the lisence at : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Traumatic_acid_structure.png Traumatic acid is a solid, white, water insoluble dicarboxylic acid. However, it is found naturally in plants and is a wound healing agent (hence the name!)

Moronic acid

By Monday, February 28, 2011 , , , , 0

If you have just been on your half term holiday - welcome back! I have decided to dedicate the next few blog posting to molecules with unusual names. First up, is moronic acid. By Edgar181 (Own work) , via Wikimedia CommonsMoronhic acid has the unbelievably complicated IUPAC name: 4aS,6aR,6aS,6bR,8aS,12aS,14aS)- 2,2,6a,6b,9,9,12a-heptamethyl- 10-oxo-4,5,6,6a,7,8,8a,11,12, 13,14,14a-dodecahydro-3H- picene-4a-carboxylic acid (!) It is extracted from the Chinese sumac or nutgall tree, Rhus chinensis.The plant is traditionally believed to hold medicinal appplications. By KENPEI (KENPEI's photo) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC ...


Metathesis is the name given to a particular type of chemical reaction - we may refer to the same reaction a displacement reaction. It is not a redox reaction. An example of this type of reaction is given below: Image kindly reproduced according to the licence at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Metathesis_reaction_Chemical_equation.png A metathesis reaction won three chemists (Chauvin, Grubbs and Schrock) the noble prize in 2005 (click here to read more) for essentially producing a catalyst that reduced the number of steps needed for chemical synthesis.

Mercury rising?

If anyone eats swordfish they will know how tasty it is. Its steaks are similar to tuna steaks but maybe a little more 'meaty'. Unfortunately, swordfish has a tendency to accumulate high levels of mercury as methyl mercury. As in humans, the fish has no way of excreting the metal once it is absorbed. Image kindly reproduced according to the licence at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Xiphias_gladius1.jpg The mercury gets into the water through a variety of sources, from coal burning power stations to chlorine producing plants. Unfortunately, ...


By Wednesday, February 16, 2011 , , , , 0

Fresh off the press, breaking news today.... It is speculated that Zinc can be effectively used to treat the common cold. We all know Zinc as a 'pseudo' transition element (is it a transition element or not? Why?) But now, researchers are claiming that Zinc lozenges of Zinc syrup can be used to treat the common cold. And the problem? Well, there are some side effects (nausea, vomiting) and it cannot be used long term (Zinc poisoning) and nobody is quite sure what makes an ...