Chemistry

Adventures in Ethics and Science

Category archives for Chemistry

Since the school science fair is safely behind us, we can give you a peek at the projects the Free-Ride offspring presented. (We couldn’t do this prior to the science fair without running the risk that the sprogs would be accused of lifting their projects from a blog post.) Here’s the elder Free-Ride offspring’s project…

In light of our recent snail eradication project: Why does salt “melt” snails and slugs? (And how do people manage to prepare escargot without ending up with a big pot of goo?) To answer this question, let us consider the snail as seen by the chemist:

You know and I know that science is cool, but for some reason kids can be suspicious of our declarations to this effect. (Maybe it has to do with our enthusiasm for vegetables that they don’t like, not to mention naps.) However, Susan the Scientist is on a mission to let kids know that science…

Tomorrow being Easter, a day on which there is some expectation that there will eggs for which to hunt in the backyard (weather permitting), the Free-Ride offspring and I decorated some eggs. We had an old package of oil-based dyes to make “swirled” eggs (the basic idea being that you float drops of the dye…

Today I decided to play with some chemicals I ordered to try to spherify V-8. It’s the molecular gastronomy thing where you mix a liquid with sodium alginate, then drip it into an aqueous solution of calcium chloride to get the juice-alginate mixture to gel, forming a skin around a liquid center. My first attempt…

A conversation that bubbled up at the dinner table last night, some time after the Free-Ride offspring were informed that the cassoulet they were eating had, as one of its ingredients, white wine. Younger offspring: Why do they call booze “spirits”? Dr. Free-Ride’s better half: I think that goes back to the early days of…

(Written for the inaugural edition of the Diversity in Science blog carnival, with big thanks to DNLee for launching it.) Back in the spring and autumn of 1992, I was a chemistry graduate student starting to believe that I might actually get enough of my experiments to work to get my Ph.D. As such, I…

I was marveling at the Chemistry gift guide at MAKE. It has lots of cool items for your budding chemist/mad scientist of any age looking to equip his or her basement/garage/treehouse laboratory. (It’s pretty hard to get fume-hoods installed in a treehouse, but who are we kidding? Most people who dabble in chemistry at home…

For years, you’ve heard the tremendous fatigue experienced after an American Thanksgiving dinner laid at the feet of the turkey — or more precisely, at the tryptophan in that turkey. Trytophan, apparently, is the go-to amino acid for those who want to get sleepy. But according to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the…

Given that today is Mole Day, it seemed only fair to follow up on our earlier experimentation with avocados. You may recall that, in discussing our efforts to dissolve avocados, we said: One further experiment we’ve decided to try at some future point is to investigate whether we can make mayonnaise substituting mashed avocado for…