December 8, 2012

Advent Chemistry: Sodium Chloride

Ionic bonds are really simple. Where covalent bonds are about sharing electrons, in an ionic bond one atom completely loses an electron to the other. The first atom become positively charged, because it’s got more protons than electrons now. The second becomes negatively charged, because...

December 7, 2012

Advent Chemistry: Benzonitrile

This is benzonitrile, a benzene ring (remember those?) with a nitrile group attached. Hermann Fehling discovered it in 1844. It smells of almonds, and is the substance which gave its name to all “nitrile” compounds. Benzonitrile is an excellent example of the kinds of thing...

December 6, 2012

Advent Chemistry: Hydrogen

It occurs to me that thus far I have not really talked about what bonds are. I’ve talked about how we can change them and how they can shuffle around to even themselves out, but not how we get them in the first place. There...

December 5, 2012

Advent Chemistry: Acetone

This is acetone, one of my favourite solvents. Its systematic name is propanone and it’s the simplest possible ketone. A ketone is any compound with a carbon backbone and a CO group that isn’t on the end. Since when there are only one or two...

December 4, 2012

Advent Chemistry: Ethanol

Today’s exciting entry is ethanol: Ethanol is of course the alcohol commonly known as, well, ‘alcohol’. It’s found in whisky, rum, cider, ale, mead, wine, vodka, gin, and so on and so forth. It has an intoxicating effect on most animals including humans and is...

December 3, 2012

Advent Chemistry: Ethanoic Acid

This is ethanoic acid, also known as acetic acid. It’s the part of vinegar that makes it taste and smell of vinegar. I’m rather fond of it, partly because I actually rather like the smell, partly because it’s a ‘weak’ acid that isn’t scary to...

December 2, 2012

Advent Chemistry: TNT

This is trinitrotoluene. It’s an explosive, as I’m sure you know. Pure TNT is yellow and the chap who invented it, one Joseph Wilbrand, used it as a dye. While it gives a powerful explosion it’s quite hard to set off and easy to work...

December 1, 2012

Advent Chemistry: Caffeine

If we’re looking at molecules I like, then there is really only one place to start. This, my friends, is caffeine, a molecule of great importance. Caffeine was discovered in 1819 by Frederick Ferdinand Runge, who named it after its presence in coffee. It is...

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