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CHF staff and scholars provide a behind-the-scenes guide to activities at CHF, with reflections on science education, provocative explorations of chemistry in the wider world, and much more.

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All posts in technology

Carbon Cycle

National Bike to Work Week has been difficult this year: rain in the northeast has stopped all but the most addicted riders from a two-wheeled commute. But the sun will be out soon. In the meantime, you might consider how bicycling is the most chemistry (and chemical) friendly ride in the world.

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Posted In: Technology

Old and Sleepy

In college I could sleep like a champ. Staying up way past midnight and then snoozing till noon on weekends was routine. Alas, senior year Physical Chemistry at 8am five days a week prevented such lifestyle luxury on school days.

 

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Posted In: Technology

Pesky Bacteria

Bacterial infections—once a major cause of human mortality—have been tamed a bit since the widespread introduction of antibiotics in the first half of the 20th century. The chances of dying from common infections are much lower now than before we had sufonamides, penicillins, tetracyclines, and scores of newer useful drugs.

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Posted In: Technology

A Scientific Rapture?

If you haven’t heard of the Singularity it’s time to pull your head out of the sand. The strange idea of technological utopianism may be going more mainstream, or at least getting air time, now that a computer is king of Jeopardy. 

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Posted In: History | Technology

More Rhythm and Blues

A few weeks back I mused about recent research showing that disruption of normal circadian rhythms can lead to all manner of health disorders. The work was intriguing because most of us take long flights to different time zones, work all night to meet a deadline, or otherwise perturb our normal rhythms. Left unsolved, however, is the problem of how to explain the results at the biochemical level.

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Posted In: Technology

The Case of the Missing Xenon

Xenon is the second heaviest of the Noble gasses. The lighter ones—Neon, Argon, and Krypton—are all present in the atmosphere at about the level expected from predictions of primordial concentration. Big old Xenon, though, is missing in action, with about 90% unaccounted for.

Where did the misplaced Xenon go? Previous attempts at explanations include Xenon entrapment in water, ice, or sediments, or possibly escape from the atmosphere into space. All have proven untenable. 

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Posted In: Technology

Radiation By Numbers

Since Japan's triple-whammy of tragedy struck, we've all been struggling to grasp what damage, if any, humans might face regarding the unfolding nuclear disaster. With so much conflicting, confusing information out there, sometimes a handy chart is all you need to put things in perspective. 

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Posted In: Technology

Bad News for Stem Cells

Considerable promise matched with equally considerable hype surround the subject of stem cells. This is due to the ability of stem cells to differentiate into any specialized type of cell and thus replace injured or diseased tissues. Possibilities include treatments for Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s dementia, heart ailments, and spinal cord injuries.

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Posted In: Technology

Old Wine in New Bottle

Taxol is an ingeniously complex organic molecule originally isolated from the bark of the Pacific Yew tree. You really don’t want to be ingesting Taxol because it likely means you are being treated for lung, ovarian, breast, or head-and-neck cancer. And now comes an idea about Taxol completely unrelated to cancer treatment and that falls in the I-wish-I’d-thought-of-that category.

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Posted In: Technology

Chemistry and Innovation

MIT’s exceedingly useful publication Technology Review just released its 2011 list of the world’s 50 most innovative companies.Naturally, I wondered how big a role chemistry plays.

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Posted In: Technology