Sunday, April 29, 2012

Well, back in my day Pluto was considered a planet...I look forward to using this line when I'm old. 
And speaking of planets, there has been more talk swirling around regarding the age old question...are we really alone in this universe?
The possibility of finding life on other planets has just gone up. The are new finding showing a large amount of habitable planets surrounding red dwarfs in our galaxy...ahh the good old Milky-way, why must you be so chocolaty and full of divine carmel...err, well as I was saying, we may not be alone!
These planets may have the perfect conditions for life as we know it. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Cuz we all know that if we divided by 0, that city would not still be there. 
Anyway, I wanted to talk about an interesting field of chemistry. Prebiotic chemistry. a.k.a the chemistry of the early Earth. See, there's the thing. We all have that question, how did we get here? What is the science pertaining to our very existence? Well, we have found a lot of interesting data that might just help answer these questions in prebiotic chem. 
Here is just a little bit to think on. Amino acids. The fundamental building blocks of life. Where did they come from? Well, for that we should look at an interesting experiment. The Miller-Urey Experiment. See Miller and Urey wanted to recreate the early atmosphere of the Earth, add some gases, and zap it with electricity while heating and cooling it repeatedly to see what happens.

And Guess what they found?

Amino Acids! They where able to create an environment that allowed for the creation of the guys. Just imaging that this means! (yes, there is some controversy surrounding some of the conditions used, but those scientists are just jelly). We could better pinpoint origins; better understand the environment of the early Earth, and and so much more.
So, check it out:

p.s. finals are next week, this is why I have been and still will be joining the hermit club.  

Friday, April 20, 2012

Gummy Bear

Poor Defenseless Gummy Bear Sentenced to Death!

Ok so it was not this brutal.......actually it was a bit worse. See we have a group of 9th graders coming to visit the chemistry lab next week. Our assignment? Come up with an experiment that will entertain young minds and plant the seed of a future scientist. 
My idea? Well lets just say it involves fire, loud noises, and lots of smoke. 
We all know the coolest part of chem lab is when something either catches on fire or goes boom. So I decided to introduce an experiment that my high school teacher mesmerized us with my junior year.

Gummy Bear meets Potassium chlorate.

So, we are basically working with the concept of rapid oxidation. We can view the poor gummy bear as our supply if sugar (CH2O). And since our potassium chlorate is so rich a source of oxygen(a course we must melt the stuff first, roughly 350 C) you can just imagine the response when our gummy(our source or carbon)  comes into contact with it..   

Alright, we have our supplies all set out(we actually used a red one for our trial today, ahh such a pretty color when exploding). Anyway, we assembled all of our equipment in a fume hood cuz, face it, you do not want any of this to touch your skin, and there is a LOT of smoke. 
About 10g of Potassium chlorate in a test tube clamped to a ring stand. We used a handy bunsen burner to heat our potassium chlorate, and then dropped our gummy in (under unanimous vote it was deemed proper to go head first).

Voila! The gummy bear screamed, blazed, and just went ballistic. 

And, no clean up is not easy....needless to say the test tube was put out of commission for any future use.
I just know the kids are going to love this next week. ;)

Last, but not least, here is a youtube video of how this reaction looks when in practice. 

*NOTE: This is not a list of instructions for you to use to conduct this experiment. It looks awesome, this is true, but this is a dangerous reaction that should only be done in a lab by professionals or under the supervision of professionals . So if your interested talk to your chemistry teacher.

Gummy Bear Meets Potassium Chlorate-The Crime
The story of why the gummy bear had such a horrific fate.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Paper? or Ticket?

I am guilty!! Unfortunately, there has been many a time when this has happened. But, in my defense, I find that magical things happen right around midnight. Inspiration strikes, writers bloke disappears, and nothing seems to cause a distraction. And why is that? It is because I am working at my best so that I might actually achieve a few hours of sleep before class starts. That, my friends, has been my greatest cause of motivation. Not that I am condoning waiting till the last moment to start a paper, but I am being realistic cuz, face it, it has, and or will,  happen to us all. 
And on to another note,  "The Proof of Innocence." What is this you may ask? Well this is a research paper that was published by senior research scientist Dmitri Krioukov in order to get out of a $400 speeding ticket by proving, through physics and math, that  a car moving at a constant speed can appear to move in the same way as a car that is moving quickly and briefly stops before accelerating again. The best part? He won.  See guy, all though equations you learn in math can help you some day.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Majorana Fermion

A bird? a plane? nope......but it is a Majorana fermion. So lets talk about these guys. You have head about dark matter, yes? Well the thought is that the universe is composed of about 73% of it. It's just a matter of finding the stuff. It is now believed that Majorana fermions are the carrier force bosons for dark matter. On April 12th, Kouwenhoven went public to Science Express, reporting that they were able to create a nanoscale electrical device where a pair of majorana fermions "appeared" at the ends of the nanowire.This is quit the interesting prospect if it proves true. The advances for computer technology alone will be mind blowing. Cause it will lead to one thing "Quantum Computer." 

Sunday, April 15, 2012


ugh....I would love to have a couple of these guys around campus. They would offer the best place to brake out the chemistry textbook and study for an exam. Not to mention it offers all of the amu for all of the lovely elements, thus eliminating the need to look them up elsewhere. Though this guy will be laking the latest finding for our lovely table. Flerovium, yup thats right guys, some brilliant scientist decided that we would call and abbreviate this new element Fl. Now admit it, early on in chemistry you used Fl for F in the case of Fluorine a couple of times by mistake. Well, it will just make one more thing not to mess up in the beautiful world of chemistry. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Plague

Just have to love it when there is a GI virus running rampant around your college campus. This GI virus, a.k.a The Plague, has hit about 300-400 students in the last week or so causing all kinds of mayhem and unnecessary panic. GI viruses are interesting little things though. Highly contagious and has no cure beyond standing in line at the local communal bathroom on your hall.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Magic Mushroom

 could it be? is it true? what could this mean for the future? 
So, apparently there is this fungus, a.k.a mushroom, growing in the Amazonian rain forest that has a very interesting ability. Pestalotiopsis microspora was discovered by Scott Strobel, a biochemistry professor from Yale, and his students who when on their annual rainforest adventure. This fungus seems to be able to prosper on a diet entirely of, get this, polyurethane. Thats right guys, plastic. This stuff can even breakdown polyurethane in anaerobic conditions, such as.....wait for it...... the depths of a landfill. Now think about that for a second. Mind-blown yet? 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I must agree. Even when I am studying to the point of drool, I am busy. I may look like I am taking a nap in class, but in reality I am performing many a different chemical function. Meh...but alas I am not a lazy student. So I can not use this excuse as much as I may like to. No, I must suck up my need to laze and put it to the books. Just another day as a college student. 

Monday, April 9, 2012


Ahh good old allergies. If one of these days someone comes up with a cure, give me a call. Sometimes I am tempted to beat my immune system, though that would imply beating myself. But, really, the notion of, "Oh look Bob it's a peanut!" "OMG Tom it it!" "Bob what should we do?" "Tom I have a great idea. Lets shut down the lungs, swell the throat, put evil itch hives everywhere, and hope for the best." "Bob your a true genius." Our bodies can be really stupid at times. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Cuz many of us have been tempted at one time or another to do something along these lines during chemistry class.