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Chemistry History

On this day in 1896, Wallace Carothers was born. Listed by C&EN magazine in their recent list of scientists who should have won a Nobel prize, we have Carothers to thank for nylon, which can be used in clothing, carpets, car parts and more. Here’s a quick look at the chemistry behind the di ... more

The Trinity Nuclear Bomb Test

Today marks 71 years since the first nuclear weapon detonation. Codenamed ‘Trinity’ it was detonated on July 16, 1945, in the Jornada Del Muerto desert in New Mexico. This graphic takes a brief look at the device itself, and also at trinitite, the pale green glass left behind as a remnant o ... more

Ernest Rutherford’s Birthday

Today, 30 August, marks the birthday of Ernest Rutherford. Rutherford is primarily considered a physicist, but his contribution to our understanding of the atom is also important to chemistry. He was also a chemistry Nobel Prize winner, for his work on radioactivity. This graphic looks in d ... more

John Dalton’s Birthday and His Chemical Symbols

Two hundred and fifty years ago today, John Dalton was born in the small town of Eaglesfield, Cumbria, in England. Though his background was entirely unassuming, he would go on to take pioneering steps in developing our ideas about elements and atoms, as well as making the first attempt at ... more

Chemical Reactions Posters

Recently, some of my classes have been revising types of chemical reactions, which inevitably set me thinking about how to represent them visually in an easy to understand way. These are the first few posters I’ve come up with – each has a large icon representative of the reaction type, as ... more

Chemical Reactions Posters II

Here’s the second part of the Chemical Reactions posters, this time featuring condensation, hydrolysis, displacement, oxidation, and reduction reactions. Click the image above to enlarge and read the text. more

Lead Iodide & ‘Golden Rain’

Kicking off an occasional new series of graphics with today’s post, which’ll be looking at common chemical reactions encountered in schools. Today kicks off with one of my favourite reactions, the ‘Golden Rain’ demonstration, which involves the synthesis and recrystallisation of lead (II) i ... more

The Tin Hedgehog Experiment

Here’s the start of a new series of collaborations with MEL Science, looking at a number of fun chemistry experiments and the explanations behind them. Today’s initial offering looks at how zinc pellets can be transformed into tin hedgehogs with some simple chemistry. more

Nanotechnology Day & Everyday Uses of Nanotechnology

October 9 is National Nanotechnology Day in the US, as it’s 10/9 in the American date format (and one nanometre is 10–9 metres). This month’s edition of Periodic Graphics in C&EN takes a look at a selection of the nanotechnology that’s already made its way into our everyday lives. more

The Chemistry of Paper and Polymer Banknotes

Last week the UK put its first polymer note into circulation, and it plans to replace all of its paper banknotes with polymer notes by 2020 (with the current exception of the £50 note). It’s far from the first country to introduce polymer notes, however; in fact, Australia has been using th ... more

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