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,...

December 18, 2012

Advent Chemistry: Cubane

This is cubane, so named because it’s an alkane and, well, it’s cubic. It doesn’t actually occur in nature. It’s a purely synthetic molecule, and if I were to guess I’d say that it was invented, not because of its possible uses, but because it’s...

December 17, 2012

Advent Chemistry: Hydrogen Fluoride

Speaking of things that are very good at what they do, let’s take a gander at hydrogen fluoride. This one doesn’t need a picture, because it’s just H-F, one hydrogen and one fluorine. (I have a terrible habit of spelling it flourine, but it is...

December 16, 2012

Advent Chemistry: Superglue

Superglue is marvellous. It sticks a lot of things to a lot of things. It’s not the best adhesive there is – it’s possible to drive four hundred miles with an engine held together by Araldite, for instance, which I doubt is possible with superglue...

December 15, 2012

Advent Chemistry: Teflon

Well, we’ve done a couple of entries on medicines, so let’s go back to some more fundamental chemistry and look at a polymer. This here is a section of polytetrafluoroethylene, or Teflon as it’s better known. It’s a fairly ordinary polymer in chemical terms, except...

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