Category Archives: Chemistry

Scientists have discovered a new state of matter, called ‘Jahn-Teller metals’

An international team of scientists has announced the discovery of a new state of matter in a material that appears to be an insulator, superconductor, metal and magnet all rolled into one, saying that it could lead to the development … Continue reading

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The Chemistry of Body Odours

body odours

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Lavoisier gets the chop


On this day in 1794 French revolutionaries tried, convicted and guillotined Antoine Lavoisier (shown here with his wife Marie-Anne). Lavoisier collected taxes for the French crown. He was also one of history’s most notable chemists. He discovered that combustion is … Continue reading

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Horizontal Barking Dog

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The hypnotic recrystallisation of 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde

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Exotic atom struggles to find its place in the periodic table

Measurements of an artificial radioactive element called lawrencium could revive an arcane controversy over the element’s position in the periodic table — and the structure of the table itself. An international team of physicists and chemists reports in Nature1 that … Continue reading

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Unlikely hydrogen bond discovered

As with magnets and alternating current, positively charged molecules never aim for one another. Indeed, similarly charged poles are repelled. Nevertheless, a team from the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Chemistry has managed to become the first to bond positively … Continue reading

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Meet the rarest natural element on Earth

Named after the Greek word for unstable (astatos), Astatine is a naturally occurring semi-metal that results from the decay of uranium and thorium. In its most stable form – astatine-210 – it’s got a half-life of just 8.1 hours, which … Continue reading

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Flesh-Eating Hydrofluoric Acid

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New type of chemical bond discovered

Move over, covalent and ionic bonds, there’s a new chemical bond in town, and it loves to shake things up. It’s taken decades to nail down, but researchers in Canada have finally identified a new chemical bond, which they’re calling … Continue reading

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Arise Sir Martyn

Our very own Professor Poliakoff has become Sir Martyn… He received a knighthood in the UK’s New Year’s Honours List. This video also features a “recent knight” – University of Nottingham Vice-Chancellor, Sir David Greenaway.

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Figuring out how we get the nitrogen we need

Nitrogen is an essential component of all living systems, playing important roles in everything from proteins and nucleic acids to vitamins. It is the most abundant element in Earth’s atmosphere and is literally all around us, but in its gaseous … Continue reading

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Quantum gas goes below absolute zero

Thanks to Phil Krause for suggesting this article. It may sound less likely than hell freezing over, but physicists have created an atomic gas with a sub-absolute-zero temperature for the first time1. Their technique opens the door to generating negative-Kelvin … Continue reading

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Happy Birthday Jöns Jacob Berzelius


It’s the birthday of Jöns Jacob Berzelius, who was born yesterday in 1779 in Väversunda, Sweden. Berzelius studied medicine at Uppsala University but he increasingly devoted himself to chemistry. His careful tabulation of relative atomic weights led him to propose … Continue reading

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Johann Joachim Becher

Phlogiston,  in early chemical theory, hypothetical principle of fire, of which every combustible substance was in part composed. In this view, the phenomena of burning, now called oxidation, was caused by the liberation of phlogiston, with the dephlogisticated substance left … Continue reading

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Periodic Table Clock

For periodic table enthusiasts like Prof. Martyn Poliakoff  this clock is pretty amazing!

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Boron ‘buckyball’ discovered

The discovery 30 years ago of soccer-ball-shaped carbon molecules called buckyballs helped to spur an explosion of nanotechnology research. Now, there appears to be a new ball on the pitch. Researchers from Brown University, Shanxi University and Tsinghua University in … Continue reading

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With the 100th anniversary of the First World War being marked later this year, Alan Mason sends us this interesting post about the war but particularly Henry Moseley, a now somewhat forgotten physicist. – Deskarati During the nineteenth century, wars … Continue reading

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The Triple Point

This video shows a liquid both boiling and freezing at the same time! Due to a drop in pressure, the mixture decreases in temperature. But the pressure drop also lowers the boiling point so the liquid both freezes and boils at the … Continue reading

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A new element has been confirmed

Australian scientists have helped to create a brand spanking new element that will soon be added to the periodic table. The super-heavy element 117 (for now, it’s also temporarily being named ununseptium) was created in a lab by a team … Continue reading

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