Not a blog about the science or practice of travel through books, but perhaps rather about science, practice and travel through books.

Archive for the ‘chemistry’ Category

Cough medicine or chocolate?

I got sick on Thursday and the cough is making it difficult both to sleep and attending lectures. And my voice sounds like it belongs to a 80 year old man. Conventional cough medicine is probably not more effective than placebo. But there is a much better solution… theobromine, found in chocolate – according to a peer-reviewed article by Usmani et al. Good news for all chocolate lovers!

Theobromine

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Photocromic reactions

Photochemistry, the interaction between molecules and light (or electromagnetic radiation), can be quite spectacular. One example is luminescent compounds. Another is so-called photocromic reactions, which can be described as a reversible change of colour upon exposure to light. A neat example of such a reaction was just published in Org. Lett. and a video in the supporting information has been published on YouTube:

via The Chem Blog

It's all chemistry

I normally prefer organic products, not because I’m so worried about food additives or ionizing radiation, but because of the potentially environmentally harmful synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides used in conventional agriculture.

But sometimes the marketing depts go too far. Like when they promote 100 % chemical free compost. Unfortunately, many people appear to be afraid of chemicals in general, but everything around us is chemicals: you, me, compost… Another funny example is the carbon-free t-shirt, given that humans consist of ~ 18 % carbon by mass. By the way, we consist of 65-90 % dihydrogen monoxide 🙂

Writing about organic, I just learned that Cuba is in the lead when it comes to organic farming — because of the US trade embargo! The country is beeing looked at as a model for other nations. Indeed, necessity is the mother of invention.

The monkey ring

I found this wonderful interpretation of a benzene ring from Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments on Carbon-based Curiosities:

Monkey benzene ring

The monkeys are carbon and the bananas hydrogen. The monkeys who hold both feet of another monkey represents double bonds.

Blog comments on academic publications

Many Norwegian universities today have their own open access repositories. The University of Bergen has BORA (shared with HiB and NHH, the University of Oslo has DUO, NTNU uses DIVA – and there exists a search engine to search though all of them (I’d never heard of it before though..): Nora. While this is good, the large majority of the work produced are never published in these repositories. Vox Publica reports that only 33 of 9868 peer-reviewed articles produced in 2006 are available!

One reason is that they are all based on an opt-in model. It’s therefore interesting that Harvard University decided that all scholarly publications by employees at the university must be made available online in an open access repository. The proposal uses the opt-out model instead, where all articles must be submitted to the repository and scholars who don’t wish their work to be openly available must apply for a waiver. I would love Norwegian universities to follow suit! NTNU has already taken a small step in the right direction, by deciding that all master’s and phd theses will follow the opt-out model.

In the future, open access might lower the barrier between academic publications and the “informal web”. Maybe blog comments on academic publications one day will be a common phenomena?

Happy valentine

Some ideas for valentine cards (add some glow-in-the-dark to the Curie-card):

valentine-curie.gif Valentine (Darwin)

Via Ironic Sans

Dry "water"

Despite it’s boring name, Novec 1230 (C-6 fluoroketone) is a really fascinating chemical. It’s liquid at room temperature and looks and acts very much like water. But it’s not wet! It’s also generally very little reactive, so you can sink your LCD in it while keeping it powered on! You can also sink books in it, and it appears that the liquid doesn’t get adsorbed or make any damage. I don’t know why it doesn’t wet, maybe because of very high surface tension? Anyway, that makes it perfect for putting out fires without damaging the interiour like water does. And unlike other halogenated fire suppression agents, like halon, it doesn’t deplete ozone! Finally it appears to be non-toxic and easy to handle. Hm.. Could someone send me a sample? 😀

Novec 1230