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Category → Chemistry in the News

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Sophia Cai and Bethany Halford.

Dragon dreams: Seven-year-old girl writes (and draws) to scientists asking for a dragon. Credit: Jezebel

Dragon dreams: Seven-year-old girl writes (and draws) to scientists asking for a dragon. Credit: Jezebel

Dear Scientists, a 7-year-old Australian girl named Sophie would like a dragon. Can we get on this, please? [Jezebel]

Prius owner turns his car into a generator during a power outage, now doubly smug. [UPI]

Not to be outdone, developers create portable battery that can charge a smartphone and jump start a car. [Popular Science]

Dolphins ingest pufferfish toxin and get so totally high, dude. [io9]

It was only a matter of time: Chemists publish an analysis of the chemistry in “Breaking Bad.” [Annals of Improbable Research]

Lion Whisperer brings along a GoPro camera so everyone can see what it looks like to hug a lion … from the safety and comfort of our own homes. [Huffington Post]

Beach worms could one day mend a broken heart. No, not your loneliness–like, seal up an actual tear in your heart muscles. [NPR]

Attention chemists skilled at assembling words or creating pictures: Only a few weeks left to get your entry ready for Chemistry World’s Science Communication Competition. [Chemistry World]

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news.

Credit: Canadian Tire

Credit: Canadian Tire

This pickup truck carved from ice is one cool ride. [Daily Mail]

What’s the difference between smelling like jet fuel and smelling like new jet fuel? One carbon, apparently. Check out this table of organic compounds and their smells to see what compounds attract sperm and what compounds smell like a combination of goat and citrus. [James Kennedy/Monash University]

Scientists in Japan make small objects levitate and dance (with video!). What I really want to see though, is this technology transferred to the dance floor. [io9]

Fluorescent pigs? Could make for an interesting “Babe” sequel. [Stuff]

For Britain to get a high speed railway, 6,000 goats will have to die. Baa, say the goats, to obscure vellum laws. [Annals of Improbable Research]

And because it’s winter and snowing where I am, here is Derek Lowe’s cold weather chicken noodle soup—with grated hardboiled eggs! [In the Pipeline]

In Print: Balloon Returns Home, Earthshaking Stadium

The Newscripts blog would like to be closer Internet buddies with our glossy print Newscripts column, so here we highlight what’s going on in this week’s issue of C&EN.

Weather Balloon_Newscripts121613_Blog

Homeward Bound: Lyles holds AMET’s weather balloon as it prepares for one wild ride. Credit: Dahlon Lyles

Purdue University‘s Association of Mechanical & Electrical Technologists (AMET)–a hands-on STEM-oriented student organization that works on everything from robots to Rube Goldberg devices to rockets–expected the weather balloon that it launched on Nov. 16 to return to Purdue’s West Lafayette, Ind., campus. As this week’s Newscripts column describes, however, the trek back home was anything but predictable.

Takeoff of the balloon started easily enough, as this video from the balloon shows:

When the balloon reached an altitude of 40,000 feet, however, AMET lost all contact. As a result, the organization didn’t know the kinds of spectacular views their balloon was enjoying as it ascended to a height of 95,000 feet above Earth. That ascension is captured in the following videos:

Because everything that goes up must come down, the balloon soon plummeted back to Earth: Continue reading →

In Print: Mushroom Wrapping And Sound Zapping

The Newscripts blog would like to be closer Internet buddies with our glossy print Newscripts column, so here we highlight what’s going on in this week’s issue of C&EN.

Polystyrene, or Styrofoam, has gotten a deservedly bad rap for clogging up Earth’s arteries. But an idea thought up by Eben Bayer when he was a mechanical engineering student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute could give plastic packing peanuts a run for their money.

Credit: Ecovative

Food for thought: Delicately wrapped wine bottle or a couple of yeast and fungus products? Credit: Ecovative

As Senior Editor Alex Scott writes in this week’s Newscripts, Bayer devised a plan to use mycelium—tiny branching threads made by fungi—to hold together a natural, moldable packaging material. His firm, Ecovative Design, has a 40,000-sq-ft mycelium-growing facility that creates Styrofoam-shaped molds (that is, hollowed-out cavities, not fungi) for packaging delicate items.

Bayer insists that this mycelium packaging goes “head-to-head with plastic foam on cost, performance, appearance, and feel,” but Alex says he’d be interested in comparing the impacts of the two products on the marine environment and greenhouse gas emissions. And the Newscripts gang would be interested in comparing the reactions of kids when they open holiday presents wrapped in fungi.

“It does have an organic and irregular appearance,” Alex admits. “But I think once consumers learn about the environmental benefits of Ecovative’s material they would opt for it every time.”

Alex, for one, says he’d be pleased to get such an environmentally friendly wrapped package and would either put it in his compost bin or, if it was easy to crumble, use it as mulch on his flower beds. Such a green guy.

And if you read his original story carefully, you’ll notice Alex is also a punny guy. One pun that he self-edited out of print? That Bayer must have been a “fun guy” to have thought the idea up. Good one, Alex.

The next item in Alex’s column is also about how to make the world greener, this time using sound to amp up electrical output.

Continue reading →

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Sophia Cai, Bethany Halford, and Jeff Huber.

Winter wonderland: Actual photograph of an actual snowflake without actually using a microscope. Credit: Flickr user ChaoticMind75

It’s delicate work taking these splendid snowflake glamour shots. [chaoticmind] via [io9]

Camels are landing jobs during the holiday season. Joe Camel, however, is still smoking silently and waiting for the phone to ring. [Washington Post]

What’s worse than a robotic telemarketer? A robotic telemarketer that adamantly insists she’s a real person. Meet Samantha West. [Time]

Who says huffing organic solvents dulls the memory? Check out what Derek Lowe’s readers have to say about reagents they’ll never forget. [In the Pipeline]

The next time a coworker asks you how you’re doing, don’t tell them you’re sleepy. Tell them you’re suffering from “sleep inertia.” Then, when they ask you what that is, lift up your head and say in a haughty voice, “Oh, well, I guess somebody doesn’t read the New Yorker!” [New Yorker]

“When the picture on their 50-inch box television started flickering, Mike took off the back panel and found the guts throbbing with ants.”  Best to read this piece on Rasberry crazy ants with a can of Raid nearby. [New York Times]

NASA scientists say life may have once been present on a Mars lake. No word yet on how much alien waterfront property may have cost. [BBC]

Next time you’re stumbling out of a bar, take comfort in statistics that show people who drink alcohol regularly (and even too regularly) live longer than teetotalers. Just don’t smugly stumble to your car, because stats can’t save you from yourself. [Business Insider]

Forget bared teeth, growling, and beating of chests–male chameleons get ready for epic showdowns by quickly changing their bodies from bright color to bright color. [NBC Science]

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Bethany Halford and Jeff Huber.

A crocodile lures birds by balancing twigs on its head. Credit: Vladimir Dinets

A crocodile lures birds by balancing twigs on its head. Credit: Vladimir Dinets

As if they weren’t scary enough already, crocodiles are also smart enough to set traps to catch prey. [ScienceDaily]

Finally, a color palette to help you figure out what the color of your urine really says about you. [Cleveland Clinic]

“Studies show there might be a positive correlation between intelligence and alcohol consumption.” The Newscripts gang would be smug if we didn’t think this was bunk. [New Republic]

German scientists discover the best way to get a bartender’s attention.  It’s easier than you think. [Seriously, Science?]

Feeling weighed down by all your self-esteem? Then use this online calculator to determine your “vitality age”—that is, the actual age of your body given your lifestyle choices—and feel the self-esteem melt away. [Daily Mail]

We suggest you check out this long read on insomnia drugs just before bedtime. [New Yorker]

In Print: #ButtScan And Bulletproof Suits

The Newscripts blog would like to be closer Internet buddies with our glossy print Newscripts column, so here we highlight what went on in last week’s issue of C&EN.

ButtScan

Bottoms up: #ButtScan challenge gives academic job applicants a chance to win $100. Credit: Shutterstock/C&EN

It’s not every day that academics get to take off their pants for a cause.

But in this week’s Newscripts, C&EN Senior Editor Michael Torrice writes about how one daring humanities job seeker dropped his or her pants and won $100 to boot.

Rebecca Schuman, an adjunct faculty member at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, challenged the readers of her blog to enclose a photograph of their (clothed) rear ends in an academic job application to prove a point. She advertised the challenge on Twitter using the hashtag #ButtScan and promised $100 to the first person to actually submit a #ButtScan application.

Schuman often writes about how absurdly involved applications for humanities positions are and seriously doubts that job committees go through the hundreds of 80-plus-page applications that are sent to them.

“What happens is you meticulously and lovingly craft these 85-page dossiers. And then you pay $14 to send them. And then you get a gaping chasm of silence—literally bupkis, nothing—until April when they send you a form rejection letter,” Schuman told Michael.

Much to her dismay, she crowned a winner just 48 hours after her call to action. She had posed the challenge as a joke but paid up when a reader sent her proof of the submitted application. #winning

Bruce Wayne suit: A lightweight armor protects dapper gents from bullets and knives. Credit: Mike Paul

Bruce Wayne suit: A lightweight armor protects dapper gents from bullets and knives. Credit: Mike Paul

The second Newscripts item is for a select crowd that has both a dangerous job and a deep pocket. A Toronto tailor is offering bulletproof men’s suits for a pretty $20,000 penny.

Continue reading →

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Sophia Cai and Jeff Huber.

turkeys_2013_page_caramel_2

Know your bird: Meet Caramel, one of this year’s pardoned turkeys. Credit: White House

Some key facts about this year’s pardoned turkeys. Decide for yourself as to whether or not they really deserved to be pardoned. [White House]

The White House’s “We the Geeks” series takes on Thanksgiving cooking (video). [The White House]

More breakdown of the science of cooked turkeys: “As the turkey is cooked … the bonds within the molecules begin to break down, which causes proteins to unravel and the dense muscle meat to become more tender.” Mmmm… you had us at unraveling proteins. [RedOrbit]

Turns out that eating a bunch of food on Thanksgiving, and not just eating turkey, makes you sleepy. Weird, huh? [NBC News]

New Orleans institute has some ideas on how to incorporate insects into traditional Thanksgiving recipes. If only they had told you before you started cooking this year’s meal!  [TreeHugger]

And now for non-Thanksgiving-themed news: Know what will make you think twice about drinking tons of Coke? The fact that Coke can also be used to remove rust from bolts, blood stains from clothes, dye from hair, and paint from metal furniture.  [ThoughtPursuits]

One reason why your kindergartner is winning the argument to stay home from school: Turns out toddlers are smarter than 5-year-olds. [NPR]

… And likely smarter than nine-year-olds, given that one just got suspended for snorting Smarties. [Time]