December 4, 2013

Advent Chemistry: Freezing Mixture

How do you make things cold? This isn’t an academic question. Quite a lot of reactions, some of them very ordinary lab procedures, put out heat. You don’t want to burn yourself or your worktop on scalding hot glass because your mixture is hot, and...

December 3, 2013

A Buchner funnel and side-arm flask

Advent Chemistry: Filtration, Faster

So, as mentioned, filtration is really slow. Sufficiently so that in reality, it’s hardly ever done that way. Unless there’s a compelling reason not to subject your mixture to anything more aggressive than gravity, you use a related, but more complicated bit of kit, and...

December 2, 2013

Filter paper

Advent Chemistry: Filtration

You all know what a filter is. It’s that thing you make coffee with. It’s a way of seperating solid particles from liquids. A sieve is a filter, if not a very fine one. A teabag is a filter with leaves inside. It is one...

December 1, 2013

Advent Chemistry: Getting Started

So here we are, day one, and first things should come first. Let’s talk about measurement. Measuring out your reactants is fairly vital to doing chemistry. You can’t get very far if you don’t know what you’ve got and how much of it. So you...

December 24, 2012

Advent Chemistry: N-glucoside

Well, it’s the 24th of December, the last day of Advent. We’ve looked at some of the fundamentals of organic chemistry: bonds, functional groups, resonance (“shuffling electrons around”), aromaticity, chirality, conformation (shape) and stability, along with some other aspects of chemistry like ionic bonds and...

December 23, 2012

Advent Chemistry: Arsole

Today, it’s time for something a bit silly. ” This is the second-best pun in the whole of chemistry: arsole, pronounced exactly the way you think. Arsole is actually its correct systematic name. I mean, it wasn’t called that for a joke. If you apply...

December 22, 2012

Advent Chemistry: Nicotine

We’ve covered two popular recreational drugs, ethanol and caffeine, so let’s look at a third. Nicotine is the major active ingredient in tobacco, and is usually ingested by burning tobacco leaves and inhaling the smoke. The nicotine is absorbed through the membranes of the mouth...

December 21, 2012

Advent Chemistry: Silicon Dioxide

Yesterday we took a whirlwind tour through liquid crystals. Today, let us consider another strange phase of matter – glass. Technically speaking, ‘glass’ is actually the name of a phase just like ‘solid’ and ‘gas’ are phases, but in common usage glass means a mixture...

December 20, 2012

Advent Chemistry: Liquid Crystals

This is 4-cyano-4′-pentylbiphenyl, and it’s a liquid crystal. Now, to cover liquid crystals properly would take up another Advent’s worth of posts, so I’m not going to. I’m going to simplify things horribly. I’m going to tell you lies-to-readers, in the same way that teachers...

December 19, 2012

Advent Chemistry: Cyclohexane

Today’s molecule, cyclohexane, was responsible for the second largest peacetime explosion in British history. Cyclohexane, as the name suggests, consists of six carbons in a ring, with their associated hydrogens, and nothing else. It isn’t interesting primarily for its reactions, but for its shape. Cyclohexane,...

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