Attack of the Killer Water Molecule (AKA hydrolysis)
Water fills our oceans, lakes, rivers and streams. It comes out of our taps. We swim in the stuff, and we drink it. For these reasons we tend to think of water as being inert. It isn’t. Water is an aggressively reactive molecule. Consider what happens when you stir salt into water: the water destroys the … Continue reading "Attack of the Killer Water Molecule (AKA hydrolysis)"
What is a Greenhouse Gas?
These lambs, bathed in the reddish glow of an infrared lamp, are taking advantage of a property of infrared light: it causes electrons to vibrate. When electrons vibrate the molecules they hold together move as well. And we are quite adept at noticing an increase in molecular movement: we call it an increase in temperature. … Continue reading "What is a Greenhouse Gas?"
Arsenic: The King of Poisons
Many arsenic compounds are colorless, odorless, and tasteless, and before the mid-eighteen hundreds arsenic could not be easily detected in the body. For these reasons arsenic was the poison of choice in the Middle Ages. In fact, so many aristocrats were offed by arsenic that it became known as “the king of poisons, and the … Continue reading "Arsenic: The King of Poisons"
How stinky socks launched the biotech revolution
Actually, there were two biotech revolutions. I will only argue that the second biotech revolution, which took place in the twentieth century, was launched by stinky socks. The first biotech revolution, which took place some 6,000 years before in the neolithic period, was arguably launched by beer.  Biotechnology is, quite simply, the manipulation of living … Continue reading "How stinky socks launched the biotech revolution"

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