chemistry

Speakeasy Science

Tag archives for chemistry

The title of this post is taken from today’s opinion piece by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, which focuses on carcinogens in our daily life and our failure to regulate exposure to dangerous compounds. Kristof’s point is that we should do a better job of protecting ourselves and our environment from industrial compounds. No…

Like the shining dawn

The chemical symbol for the metallic element gold is Au, taken from the Latin word aurum meaning ‘shining dawn’. In the Periodic Table of Elements it occupies a companionable neighborhood of other metals, tucked neatly between platinum (Pt) and mercury (Hg). But as origin of its chemical symbol indicates, we’ve long found difficult to be…

National Poison Prevention Week

Let me begin with a confession: until I researched and wrote a book about poisons, The Poisoner’s Handbook, I never paid too much attention to National Poison Prevention Week. Like most of us, I was just too comfortable with our chemical culture, the toxic compounds that we use daily to clean our sinks and counters,…

Gummy bear chemistry

I couldn’t resist this wonderfully explosive video on YouTube showing the unfortunate end of a red gummy bear when mixed with potassium perchlorate. I do love to watch a good hissing, sparking chemical reaction. Especially when it’s not me doing the sparking (see earlier blog on the art of setting one’s hair on fire in…

Chemistry confessions

I’ve just started my book tour  for The Poisoner’s Handbook and people seem to be wondering  why I (a friendly mother-of-two) am so fascinated by poisons. I admit to a fascination with murder mysteries (count on me later in this blog to write about Agatha Christie). I share my affection for forensic dramas on television.…

The poisoner among us

Last week, The Poisoner’s Handbook got a great, pre-publication review in one of my favorite magazines,  New Scientist.  I was thrilled – and relieved. Hard to say which came first.  The week before publication – the book’s official date is Feb. 22 – always makes me a little crazy. But much as I like my…

Secrets of Smoke

In 1854, the essayist Henry David Thoreau published an ode to a morning fire: “Light-winged Smoke, Icarian bird… Lark without song, and messenger of dawn.” Scientists, of course, saw the hazing blue of wood smoke  – or any smoke derived from burning plant material – as something less poetic. In particular, the smoke from dried…