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Links 1 through 10 of 90 by Chad Orzel tagged chemistry

“I started a fire with flint and steel.”

Often heard, at least in some circles. But, what does this really mean?
Well, there are two very different processes that might be being talked about:

Traditional Flint and Steel: Striking a hardened piece of carbon steel with a very hard rock, often flint, to generate sparks.
Ferrocerium: Scraping a “magic” stick (trade names: Fire Steel, Blastmatch, Metal- Match) with something “sharp” to generate sparks.
Why do we care about making a distinction?

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In this report, the results of a longitudinal study with PhD students in chemistry in the UK are presented. Men and women show radically different developments regarding their intended future careers. At the beginning of their PhD studies, fully 72% of women express an intention to pursue careers as researchers, either in industry or academia. Among men, 61% express the same intention. By the third year, the proportion of men planning careers in research had dropped from 61% to 59%. But for the women, the number had plummeted from 72% in the first year to 37% as they finish their studies. If we tease apart those who want to work as researchers in industry from those who want to work as researchers in academia, the third year numbers are alarming: 12% of the women and 21% of the men see academia as their preferred choice. This is not the number of PhDs who in fact do go to academia; it’s the number who want to. 88% of the women don’t even want academic careers, nor do 79% of the men!

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A quick search of several neighborhoods of the UnitedStates revealed that while pseudoephedrine is difficult toobtain,
 N -methylamphetamine can be procured at almost anytime on short notice and in quantities sufficient for synthesisof useful amounts of the desired material. Moreover,according to government maintained statistics, N -methylmphetamine is becoming an increasingly attractive starting material for pseudoephedrine, as the availability of  N -methylmphetamine has remained high while prices have dropped and purity has increased [2]. We present here ac onvenient series of transformations using reagents which can be found in most well stocked organic chemistry laboratories to produce psuedoephedrine from N -methylamphetamine.

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2011's progress in science with actual practical applications.

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"Beer is the juice of grain skilfully treated: it is liquid bread. The first people to make beers as we know them today were the Sumerians, who cultivated cereal grains specifically for brewing and drank beer to honour their gods. Many cultures have seen beer as a gift from God (a medieval English term for yeast was godisgoode). It is an expression of place and tradition – one of the few truly regional foods to which we are regularly exposed.

Brewing is a combination of art and science and great brewers are blessed with a little of both. The artist in the brewer chooses the ingredients and balances the flavours and aromas of the finished product. The scientist understands and carefully orchestrates a symphony of chemical reactions between the grain, the water, the hops, and the yeast. The brewing process is complex and what follows can only be an outline of it."

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""The students really learned how to do science," Weitz said, by doing lab experiments based on cooking. And, from their reaction, they really seemed to enjoy it.

"I think the fact that you can eat the lab is really cool," one student said of the course in a video interview played during Weitz's talk."

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"I get probably more than my share of come-ons for various wonder-healing potions. For some reason, people see that I talk about drug discovery and think that I'm sure to be interested in homeopathic wonder water, magnetic healotronic belt buckles, or what have you. I am not. Well, at least not in the usual way that they're presented, as Great New Discoveries that I can order right now, first month's supply is free, and so on."

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"If you’ve ever sat down at a pub to a plate of really good fish and chips—the kind in which the fish stays tender and juicy but the crust is supercrisp—odds are that the cook used beer as the main liquid when making the batter. Beer makes such a great base for batter because it simultaneously adds three ingredients—carbon dioxide, foaming agents and alcohol—each of which brings to bear different aspects of physics and chemistry to make the crust light and crisp."

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"As always in these cases, there are HUGE problems with all of this.  The would-be paper is "published" in an online journal run by one of the claimants.  The claimants won't let independent people examine the apparatus.  They also don't do the completely obvious demonstration - setting up a version that runs in closed cycle (that is, take some of that 12 kW worth of steam flow, and generate the 400 W of electrical power needed to keep the apparatus running, and just let the system run continuously).  If the process really is nuclear in origin, and the hydrogen accounting is correct, it should be possible to run such a system continuously for months or longer.  The claimants say that they've been using a 10 kW version of such a unit to heat a factory in Italy for the past year, but they conveniently don't show that to anyone."

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