Category: Just Everyday Science

The science behind everyday phenomena, such as what makes methanol more toxic than ethanol, and how we determine the age of dinosaur fossils!

Aromatherapy – Probably Useless, Perhaps Even Dangerous

Essential oils for aromatherapy are all the rage nowadays; the ‘essence’ of all that good stuff in plants captured and inhaled to treat diseases. However there is little evidence supporting aromatherapy as a form of medication, while the dangers of the concentrated chemicals in essential oils are rarely publicized. Don’t let plants pull their leaves over your eyes.

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Why Are Organic Compounds White?

Someone commented on one of our Instagram posts that the only reason they had studied chemistry was because of the ‘amazing colors’. While this is pretty solid motivation for many of us, an organic chemist might find it harder to relate; most small organic molecules take the form of a white powder or colorless crystals. For a science that is known to be filled with color, we take a look at why some of these compounds refuse to conform.

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How To Date A Dinosaur Fossil

No, not that kind of dating… Rather, ‘dating’ a dinosaur bone dug out of the ground involves a series of processes that allow us to estimate just how long the thing had stuck around on this Earth. This helps us to understand how that species fits into the evolutionary tree of change; when did they first appear and when did the last of their kind walk this Earth? Let’s take a look at the chemistry that allows us to travel 65 millions years back in time.

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The Tragic Tail of Tributyltin

A long standing area of research is that of stannanes, or organotin compounds, that were first discovered almost 200 years ago and continue to be relevant in industry and academia today. Although the mono- and tetra- substituted derivatives of tin are relatively non-toxic, di- and especially tri- organotin compounds can have serious adverse effects on the human body as well as the environment.

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How A Dose Of Iodine Can Kill You (Or Save Your Life)

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.

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