SN1 or SN2 – what do the numbers mean?

Chances are, as a teacher or a student you will come across these terms (SN1 or SN2) in the teaching of IB Chemistry. They come up on a number of occasions in the organic chemistry part of the course (at Core, Higher or Option level). As a student, I was happy with the SN part - 'S' meant substitution - quite self explanatory, you swap one thing with another. 'N' was a little more difficult but I could get my head ...

Focus on Carbon

I have come across the following YouTube clips on carbon and global warming and thought that I would use them as a mini topic this week. They could, I guess, be used an organic chemistry resource  (OK, obvious, I know), but also used in conjunction with the bonding unit, the energetics unit and the environmental option. ypbb9Zi5Tao  

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 ...

Chemical breath

A portable breathalyser has been developed by a team of researchers in the USA. The breathalyser has been developed using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry to analyse organic markers. It is hoped that it will be able to be used to detect lung cancer and heart transplant rejection. The idea ogf using it to detect terrorists has also been suggested. The researchers tested people who handled explosives daily and found out that they exhaled a whole range of organic compounds that the control group ...

Cold Isotope Chemistry

Isotopes react in the same way, don't they? Chemical reactions are unaffected by the isotopic composition so the percentage of different isotopes of the same element in a substance would be the same as the percentage of each naturally occurring isotope. Well, this is true on earth but it is not the case in space, deep space where the temperature is really low and the concentration of atoms very very small. In effect, one isotope will become more reactive than the other. Scientists have ...

Candles

  It was one of my students birthdays last week. The student brought in a cake, I had a candle, we lit it, sang happy birthday, etc ..... and then had a remarkably good discussion into wjat happens during the combustion of a candle. What is actually burning? The students asked. The wax? the wick? both? neither? By Matthew Bowden www.digitallyrefreshing.com (http://www.sxc.hu/photo/148763) , via Wikimedia CommonsThis is actually a good discussion to have if you are about to teach this organic Chemistry ...