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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

Eating the Periodic Table

Inedible as the elements may be, the symbolism of the periodic table has proved just as irresistible to restaurateurs as it has to other borrowers of the genre. At the Miracle of Science Bar + Grill, which bills itself as “the leader in geek-chic”, the menu display uses Mendeleevian graphics almost exclusively.

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Posted In: Technology

Kitchen 101: Poached Eggs

Cooking, as you might know, is a science—chemistry, for the most part—and learning the reasons behind the techniques can up your confidence in the kitchen. That’s my hope, anyway; in “Kitchen 101,” an occasional series on Periodic Tabloid, I’ll learn and share the proper way to make simple foods that until this time have utterly stumped me.

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Posted In: Technology

Water Still Surprises

You might have thought that any chemical controversy about water was settled when Lavoisier definitively established its composition over two centuries ago. You would be wrong, of course, to assume such, even on a molecule as simple as H2O.

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Posted In: Technology

Summer Sun

Summer officially begins today across the northern hemisphere, so it's time to get serious about sunscreen. If last June’s bottle of SPF 100 gave you a smug feeling of superiority, be prepared: manufacturers can now only tout protection up to SPF 50. Nothing higher has demonstrated any increase in protection – protection that is provided by our friend titanium dioxide.

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Posted In: Technology

To Dad

Father's Day this past weekend was a special treat. My youngest daughter Christi – expressing both her irrepressible inner artist and a connection to the old man – created a periodic table card for the occasion. What could be better?

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Posted In: Technology

Collective Voice: Gumshoe

As the registrar at CHF, I sometimes come across things in the object collection that are a total mystery. In my opinion, these are some of the best finds, because they mean I get to play detective and try to figure out what the object is and what it was used for.

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Posted In: Technology

You Can Call Me 114

The official recognition of two new elements – 114 and 116 – on June 1 was kind of a big deal. 116 lasts only milliseconds before it decays into 114, and 114 lasts less than a second before it decays into 112. Because these elements are so unstable, little is known about their properties. Right now, most people are just talking about their names.  

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Posted In: History | Technology

Revealing MRIs

After watching POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (Morgan Spurlock’s documentary about product placement), I’m looking at advertisements very differently. No one product stuck in my head – instead, what I’m thinking about is the science sliced in the center of the film.

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Posted In: Technology

Office Calisthenics, Anyone?

The calorie, scientifically popularized by an agricultural chemist, was once used as a tool to maximize efficiency among laborers: to “promote the largest production of brick per man.” But as you may be aware, America doesn’t make a lot of bricks anymore. I was reminded of this when I saw a new report linking long-term shifts in the job market with a corresponding rise in obesity rates.

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Posted In: History | Technology

Boom and Bust (the Bad Guys)

Considerable research has gone into highly sensitive detection systems that can be used to screen airports and other potential targets for explosive devices. One promising strategy is described in a new publication from the Department of Chemical Engineering at MIT, which uses a chemical sensor to detect as little as one molecule of TNT.

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Posted In: Technology