• This Day in Science History - June 2 - Nils Sefström
    June 2nd is Nils Gabriel Sefström's birthday. Sefström was the Swedish chemist who re-discovered the element vanadium in 1830.

    Vanadium was originally discovered by the Mexican mineralogist Andrés Manuel del Río in 1801 where he named his discovery panchromium, meaning "all colors" because it formed many colorful compounds. He eventually went with the name erythronium, where erytho- means red, because of the bright red crystals formed by the oxide of the new element. He sent samples to his European colleagues to verify his discovery but they mistakenly identified the crystals to be chromium and he gave up his claim.

    Twenty nine years later, Sefström discovered the same bright red crystals and believed he found a new element that he named vanadium after the Scandinavian goddess of love, Vanadis. His discovery was verified and vanadium became the official name of the element.

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    This Day in Science History - June 2 - Nils Sefström originally appeared on About.com Chemistry on Sunday, June 1st, 2014 at 22:05:01.

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  • The Singing Spoon
    Make a spoon sing using dry ice. (Donovan Govan)Do you know how to make an ordinary metal spoon sing or scream? The easiest way is to press the spoon against a rapidly sublimating material, like dry ice.

    Singing Spoon Video | See how it works

    The Singing Spoon originally appeared on About.com Chemistry on Sunday, June 1st, 2014 at 08:01:55.

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  • This Day in Science History - June 1 - Werner Forssmann
    June 1st marks the passing of Werner Forssmann. He was a German physician who first inserted a catheter into a person directly into the heart. He was also the first person to have this procedure done. As an intern in cardiology he believed drugs could be administered to the heart with a catheter without killing the patient. To prove it could be done, he inserted a catheter in his own antecubital vein and, catheter dangling from his arm, proceeded to climb two flights of stairs to get an x-ray to document the catheter's position in his right atrium.

    This stunt earned him the ire of his superiors and he faced disciplinary action and changed his internship to urology. During World War II, he served in the German army as a doctor until he was captured and sat out the war in a prisoner of war camp. After the war, he worked as a lumberjack and country doctor until in 1956 he was surprised to receive part of the 1956 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his medical school "stunt".

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    This Day in Science History - June 1 - Werner Forssmann originally appeared on About.com Chemistry on Saturday, May 31st, 2014 at 22:05:06.

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  • Homemade Dippin Dots Ice Cream
    Dippin Dots Ice Cream (RadioActive)Did you know you can make your own Dippin Dots ice cream? It's actually a simple variation of the classic liquid nitrogen project. You can make these for fun, part of a science project or dessert! Here's what you do...

    Homemade Dippin Dots Ice Cream originally appeared on About.com Chemistry on Saturday, May 31st, 2014 at 10:29:37.

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  • How TNT Pop Its Snappers Work
    TNT Pop Its Snappers (Anne Helmenstine)In case you were wondering, TNT Pop Its don't contain TNT. That is simply their brand name. Pop Its are trick noisemaker "rocks", commonly seen around the 4th of July and other holidays, that pop when they are stepped on or thrown against a hard surface. They look like little paper-wrapped rocks, which, in fact, is what they are.

    The rock is rock or sand that has been soaked in silver fulminate. Silver fulminate (like mercury fulminate, which would be toxic) is explosive. However, the quantity of fulminate in Pop Its is very small so the little exploding rocks are safe. Fulminates are easily prepared by reacting metal with concentrated nitric acid. You don't want to go making this in any quantity yourself because the fulminate is shock sensitive and pressure sensitive. However, if you decide to make do-it-yourself Pop Its, the silver fulminate is more stable if flour or starch is added to the crystals during the filtering process.

    How TNT Pop Its Snappers Work originally appeared on About.com Chemistry on Saturday, May 31st, 2014 at 07:27:45.

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  • Carbon's New Champion

    Strongest material

    Carbon's New Champion

    Rice University theorists calculate atom-thick carbyne chains may be strongest material ever.

    Image: Rice University researchers have determined from first-principle calculations that carbyne would be the strongest material yet discovered.

    The carbon-atom chains would be difficult to make but would be twice as strong as two-dimensional graphene sheets.

    [credit: Vasilii Artyukhov, Rice University]

  • A Tandem for Biomass

    Biomass catalytic tandem reaction

    A Tandem for Biomass

    Catalytic tandem reaction for the conversion of lignin and bio-oil by hydroxylation of phenols to form arenes.

    Image: The conversion of lignin into low-boiling-point arenes instead of high-boiling-point phenols could greatly facilitate conventional refinery processes.

    A new procedure for the depolymerization of lignin and simultaneous conversion phenols into arenes is described.

    [Source: Angewandte Chemie]

  • Direct Imaging of Covalent Bond Structure

    Reactant and Product Molecules

    Direct Imaging of Covalent Bond Structure

    Atom by atom, bond by bond, a chemical reaction caught in the act - Berkeley Lab scientists make the first-ever high-resolution images of a molecule as it breaks and reforms chemical bonds.

    Image: The original reactant molecule, resting on a flat silver surface, is imaged both before and after the reaction, which occurs when the temperature exceeds 90 degrees Celsius. The two most common final products of the reaction are shown.

    [Credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California at Berkeley]

  • Add Boron for Better Batteries

    Graphene/Boron for Batteries

    Add Boron for Better Batteries

    Rice University theorists say graphene-boron mix shows promise for lithium-ion batteries.

    Image: A theory developed at Rice University determined that a graphene/boron compound would excel as an ultrathin anode for lithium-ion batteries. The compound would store far more energy than graphite electrodes used in current batteries.

    [Credit: Vasilii Artyukhov/Rice University]

  • Nano-forest for Solar Water-splitting

    Integrated Artificial Photosynthesis Nanosystem

    Nano-forest for Solar Water-splitting

    Berkeley Lab researchers report first fully integrated artificial photosynthesis nanosystem.

    Image: This is a schematic of the nanoscale tree-like heterostructures used for solar-driven water splitting in which TiO2 nanowires are grown on the upper half of a Si nanowire, and the two semiconductors absorb different regions of the solar spectrum. Insets display photoexcited electron-hole pairs separated at the semiconductor-electrolyte interface to carry out water splitting with the help of co-catalysts.

    [Credit: Peidong Yang group/Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley]

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