Reading the news seems a lot like doom and gloom these days, what with the threat of nuclear war always on the headlines. The devastation that nuclear reactions can achieve is undeniable; however their effects reach far beyond the immediate blast damage and thermal radiation that can be observed. Another danger lurks – unseen and undetected – but nonetheless capable of widespread destruction.
Spectroscopy is not only an important part of a scientist’s arsenal, but also a big part of everyday life. Take a moment to appreciate that the myriads of colours in dyes and paints are made possible by chemical compounds that possess certain spectral characteristics, or how the chemical composition of distant galaxies can be characterised based on their observed spectra. In this tutorial we will be discussing how infrared spectroscopy works, and its applications.
Merry Christmas! As we relax and unwind this holiday season, look out the window and observe the falling of snowflakes (if you’re fortunate enough to be able to!). Each icy crystal begins its existence high up in the atmosphere and slowly alters its appearance as it falls but always retaining its hexagonal structure, nature ever the master craftsman… Continue reading
To all you wine lovers out there, have you ever wondered how many chemicals are involved in conjuring the unique taste of a wine – grapes from a certain vineyard, harvested during a particular year, aged in a carefully selected barrel. These are just some of the factors that contribute to the thousands (yes, thousands) of chemicals that affect a wine’s taste. But what if somewhere during the process of winemaking, something doesn’t go quite right… Continue reading
Beneath the surface of the oceans, there is silence. Rarely disturbed, it is often forgotten that sound travels through water four times faster than in air. Whales however never forget, and have taken advantage of this, using low amplitude vocalizations that can be heard many kilometers away. But do these ‘songs’ carry a purpose? Or do whales simply like singing in the shower, so to speak?
Friday 28 September 1928. Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming would walk into his Imperial College laboratory on the morning of this day to find a petri dish containing staphylococcus bacteria to be contaminated by mold. The mold seemed to inhibit the growth of bacteria, leading Fleming to conclude that it had produced a substance harbouring anti-bacterial properties. The events that would conspire in the following years would arguably be the biggest success story the world has ever witnessed.
As I approached the completion of my undergraduate degree, I was definitely unsure of how research worked and the expectations that were required of me going forward. This resulted in a bit of confusion as I learned the ropes and how to handle my newfound freedom as I set out to do some proper research.
Looking back, I think what would have benefited me greatly was some simple guidance as I transitioned from routine, scheduled lectures to the erratic and unpredictable world of research. Guidance such as this feature article co-written with a fantastic collaborator.