chemistry_Carmen_Sivakumaren

Spectrum

These colorful fractions were obtained upon purifying a synthetic small-molecule through flash column chromatography. Though most of these were impurities (bright colors in organic chemistry is usually not a great sign), it served as a reminder to appreciate the beauty in the mundane and seemingly unimportant. Contributed by Carmen Sivakumaren, a graduate student in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program at Harvard Medical School.   Continue reading Spectrum

Elendil

The Light of Elendil in Shelob’s Lair

By Andrew Wong, a second year graduate student in the Applied Physics program at Harvard University.       The increase in global energy demand and subsequent carbon dioxide emissions has driven advancements in renewable energy generation technologies such as wind turbines and solar cells. However, these technologies are inherently intermittent, and require robust energy storage devices. Inexpensive, large-scale energy storage systems such as aqueous … Continue reading The Light of Elendil in Shelob’s Lair

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The Flavor Rundown: Natural vs. Artificial Flavors

by C. Rose Kennedy figures by Kaitlyn Choi What’s in a Flavor? The word “flavor” pervades our daily vocabulary, evoking associations of rich or vivid experiences beyond the experience of eating. Even in the literal context, the Flavor Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA) describes flavor as “the entire range of sensations that we perceive when we eat a food or drink a beverage. Flavor encompasses a substance’s … Continue reading The Flavor Rundown: Natural vs. Artificial Flavors

Plastic bottles

Public Opinion Forces Companies to Seek Safer Replacements for Safe (and Essential) Chemical

Consumer pressure – not scientific evidence – has prompted companies like Nalgene, General Mills, and Campbell’s to remove a chemical called bisphenol A (BPA) from their merchandise.  BPA is primarily used to make plastics that are found in many everyday products, such as water bottles, medical devices, toys, and liners for food cans.  As a result, BPA is ubiquitous in modern life and many people … Continue reading Public Opinion Forces Companies to Seek Safer Replacements for Safe (and Essential) Chemical

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Memoirs of a Toxin: The lasting human impact on mercury in the environment

Presented by Hannah Horowitz Mercury is a potent neurotoxin. For thousands of years, humans have altered mercury cycling in the environment by introducing massive amounts of mercury to surface water, soils, and air, through mining and burning coal. Once in the surface environment, mercury can threaten human and wildlife health, is transported globally through the air, and continues to have an impact for hundreds of … Continue reading Memoirs of a Toxin: The lasting human impact on mercury in the environment

A 5000x magnification view of diatoms, a type of tiny algae. (Credit: from Jim Mikulak (The English Wikipedia) via Wikimedia Commons.)

Algae: Applications in Removing Arsenic and Beyond

Scientists at Zhejiang University have recently published an improved method for removing arsenic from drinking water, which relies on chemically modifying the shells of a type of algae, called diatoms, to make the shells efficient “sponges” for soaking up arsenic. Modified diatom shells are unique in that they can be widely manipulated for applications in fields as diverse as medicine and materials science. Despite their … Continue reading Algae: Applications in Removing Arsenic and Beyond