↓ Expand ↓

Category → Chemical History

This Month in Chemical History

Before July bids us adieu, I thought it might be fun to list some of the notable events this month in chemical history (after the jump). This list is by no means comprehensive. For more historical tidbits, visit Dr. Leopold May’s Chemistry Calendar and ACS’s This Week in Chemical History (there are lots of other sites, too, that I’ll mention in a posting next month.)

Continue reading →

Sticky Rice: Shades of Shimmer

Sticky Rice Mango

Sticky Rice Mango

Remember Shimmer? The combination floor wax/dessert topping dreamed up by Saturday Night Live and made real by NYU chemistry professor  Kent Kirshenbaum and pastry chef Will Goldfarb? Well, it turns out that the ancient Chinese may have had their own wacky combination of home maintenance item/dessert staple–sticky rice.

A new paper in Accounts of Chemical Research

reports that glutinous or sticky rice is a key component of the mortar in Nanjing’s 600-year-old city wall. Researchers led by Bingjian Zhang of China’s Zhejiang University detected the presence of amylopectin–a carbohydrate found in the rice–in chemical and instrumental analyses of the wall’s mortar. They believe that Chinese masons working as far back as 1,500 years ago combined slaked lime with sticky rice soup to make the mortar and they argue that the same brew is best for repairing ancient structures. They even test different lime-sticky rice soup recipes to see which is best.

Sadly, there’s no mention of sweet mango in the mix.

This Day In Chemical History: Johan Gadolin

Johan Gadolin was born on this date in 1760. And why care about Johan Gadolin, you ask? In 1794,the Finnish chemist discovered yttrium, the first known rare earth element.

(Hat tip to Dr. Leopold May at The Catholic University of America)