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Category → Chemistry in the News

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Sophia Cai, Bethany Halford, and Jeff Huber.

Hallelujah! You might be the laughingstock of the office, but who's potentially going to live longer now?! Credit: Washington Post

Hallelujah! You might be the laughingstock of the office, but  guess who’s winning at life? Credit: Washington Post

Combat that life-expectancy-lowering sedentary work style with a few reps of “Raise The Roof” and “The Hulk.” Interactive demos show you how to get moving–and how each exercise ranks in terms of difficulty, sweatiness, and humiliation. [Washington Post]

We’re boiling here on the East Coast. Good thing someone’s come up with a way to turn our sweat into potable water. [ShortList]

Pregnant women seem like the least likely population to take Viagra, but the little blue pill could help boost fetal growth. [Daily Mail]

Trinity College in Dublin finishes the pitch drop experiment after 69 years. Key factors? Time and a webcam. [RTE News]

The chemistry of why mosquitoes find some people particularly delicious. [Smithsonian]

A couple of months ago, Newscripts found a ton of people desperate to go to Mars. But do they realize how utterly boring the trip will be? [Boing Boing]

Dear sci-fi predictions: I’m willing to give back spray-on clothes and driverless cars. Now can I have my Star Trek transporter and Jetsons flying car? Thanks! [iO9]

In Print: Don’t Delete! Read This If You Want To Get Rich!

The Newscripts blog would like to be closer Internet buddies with our glossy print Newscripts column, so here we highlight what went on in last week’s issue of C&EN.


Ca-ching!: Newscripts has some tips on how you can make money, money, money. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Didn’t have a chance to attend last weekend’s get-rich-quick seminar at your local mall? Never fear, Newscripts is here! Just check out last week’s column, written by C&EN Senior Editor Alex Scott, for some helpful tips on how to approach future investments.

Worried that your stock portfolio invests too heavily in fossil-fuel companies? Well, you should be, according to a new report by Carbon Tracker Initiative and the London School of Economics & Political Science that finds that more than $674 billion is spent annually on the discovery of fossil fuels. Such an investment is misguided, says the report, given that fossil-fuel consumption will inevitably have to be curtailed in order to prevent irreparable climate-change damage. This fact, however, seems to be lost on energy companies, and their investors, who continue to pump money into the discovery of new fossil fuels.

So get-rich-quick tip #1? Avoid overinvesting in fossil-fuel companies. “It seems ridiculous to me that investors have not recognized that in the future it may become socially, and politically, unacceptable to burn fossil fuels and that this risk needs to be factored into their company evaluations,” Alex says. As just one example of the risks posed by burning fossil fuels, Alex points to a study published earlier this month that found that air pollution in northern China has decreased life expectancy there by five-and-a-half years.

Alex, however, is quick to point out that investments in fossil fuels can be beneficial when combined with a commitment to sustainability. For example, plastics makers can use closed-loop manufacturing systems to turn discarded plastic into new material for their supply chains, he says.

In the second part of his column, Alex gives get-rich-quick tip #2: Be on the lookout for microwave-driven Internet. As Alex explains, Perseus Telecom, an e-trade information technology firm, is conducting studies regarding the feasibility of using balloons to transmit microwave signals across the Atlantic Ocean. Such signals would be able to transmit data faster than current fiber-optic infrastructure, providing stock traders with a potential advantage in their fast-paced work environments. Continue reading →

In Print: Electromagnet Embarks On Slow Ride, Takes It Easy

The Newscripts blog would like to be closer Internet buddies with our glossy print Newscripts column, so here we highlight what went on in last week’s issue of C&EN.


The precious: One (electromagnetic) ring to rule the roadways. Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

New Yorkers aren’t known for sharing the road. But they really had no other choice when a 50-foot-wide electromagnet pulled out of Brookhaven National Laboratory in the wee hours of June 23 and slowly trudged along the highway.

As C&EN Associate Editor Lauren Wolf reported in last week’s Newscripts column, the electromagnet’s early-morning joyride was actually only the beginning of its journey. Over the remaining summer months, the electromagnet (which its handlers affectionately call the “ring” on account of the instrument’s shape) will travel by land and sea to arrive at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, located just outside of Chicago. Once there, the ring will be united with Fermilab’s muon beam generator. What are muons, you ask? They’re a subatomic particle similar to electrons but heavier. Fermilab scientists want to study the slight movements exhibited by muons as they interact with the ring’s electromagentic field because such movements could point to the existence of previously unknown particles and forms of energy. It’s an experiment that Brookhaven actually ran years ago, but the beam the lab used wasn’t intense enough, and as a result, the findings weren’t definitive enough.

Pairing the electromagnet up with Fermilab’s much stronger muon beam generator should alleviate this problem. First thing is first though: The electromagnet has to overcome a rather difficult journey. “The ring can’t twist during transit by more than a degree or so because it might break, which would make this costly move even more costly,” notes Lauren, who adds that the move is being coordinated in part by Emmert International, a firm that specializes in the transport of hauling heavy and large objects. Lauren is quick to note, however, that the big move is a labor of love for all involved. “I’m told the ring was built at Brookhaven in the 1990s,” says Lauren. “So I imagine that some of these scientists and engineers feel parental pride for the little, er, big guy.”

If you’re feeling parental pride for the electromagnet as well, Fermilab has set up what basically amounts to an online baby monitor to track the ring. Just click here to check out a map tracking the movement of the magnet in real time. And if that’s not enough backstage access to the electromagnet’s journey, check out this video featuring interviews with some of the ring’s movers as well as footage of the electromagnet’s road trip across Long Island.

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Sophia Cai, Bethany Halford, and Jeff Huber.

Britain Colin Firth

Man finally confronts the guy his wife has been talking about for all these years: Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” Credit: David Parry / AP Photo

Another reason to love London: A larger-than-life-size Mr. Darcy/Colin Firth emerges sexily from the Serpentine. [Time]

Another reason to love Paris: A life-size chrome T. rex looms over the Seine. [Gizmodo India]

They’re bringing the passenger pigeon back from extinction. Can’t wait to see what’s next! Woolly mammoth? Dodo? T. rex to look at its chrome skeleton in Paris? [Washington Post]

Don’t like your broccoli? Blame California. [Slate]

Nineteen-foot python breaks into an Australian thrift shop, leaving behind an impressive … scale of destruction. Wait! Where are you going? Come back! [WHTM-TV]

Speaking of scales: It’s a fish-eat-fish world out there. Turns out fish have learned that you don’t have to swim faster than a predator, you just have to swim faster than the fish next to you. Biting said fish also helps. [iO9]

Now designing high-tech toilets to get men to do what they shouldn’t need to be reminded to do—wash their hands. [NPR]

Dog traveling alone jumps aboard a bus on the way to the Staten Island Ferry. Dog has its day of sightseeing ruined by animal control. [Free Republic]

New study warns that the artificial sugar in diet sodas may hinder the body’s ability to process real sugar. But don’t worry! The American Beverage Association says everything’s okay. [NPR]

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Sophia Cai, Bethany Halford, and Jeff Huber.

"Loch Ness Imposter" by Ross Zietz

“Loch Ness Imposter” by Ross Zietz

A new theory posits that the Loch Ness Monster is really just Scotland’s Great Glen Fault. But if you ask the Newscripts gang, that claim sounds a little … faulty. Wait! Where are you going? Come back! [Yahoo! News]

Buttercup the amputee duck gets a shiny new, 3-D printed foot (with video). [iO9]

Consumption of toxic cane toads is killing off a large number of Australian dwarf crocodiles. “Eating toads?!” exclaimed the French populace. “That’s disgusting. Everyone knows that frogs are where it’s at.” [Australian Broadcasting Corp.]

Pinch those baby cheeks, squeeze that puppy. You can’t help it, so why try? [Scientific American]

Sharks generate their own electricity, leaving open the possibility for shark cyberattacks. [Physics Central]

Be the envy of well-dressed geeks everywhere with the playable Tetris tie. [Topless Robot]

Or, if you’re going to barbeque this July 4, why not use a pair of narwhal skewers? Want! [Sly Oyster]

Dopamine: love, lust, addiction, and so much more. [Slate]

Butler University’s bulldog mascot trains for upcoming athletic events in a video montage. Attorneys for the movie “Rocky” prep their copyright infringement case. [For The Win]

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Bethany Halford and Jeff Huber.

Credit: Ren Netherland/Barcroft Media/Landov

Credit: Ren Netherland/Barcroft Media/Landov

Dog owners get their pets all dolled up for creative dog-grooming contest. “I really am a good boy for putting up with this,” canine entrants quietly think to themselves. [BBC]

It’s getting hot out there. Perfect time to debunk some myths about ice in cocktails. [Serious Eats]

North American spider dies after it mates for the first time. And no, that’s not the pitch for an animated version of “Fatal Attraction.” [Science News]

Watch how your used glass bottles get recycled into new ones. [NPR]

Scientist estimates the death toll of Superman’s fight scenes in “Man of Steel” because that’s what you want to think about when watching a fun summer blockbuster. [BuzzFeed]

The scoop on ecofriendly diaper chemistry. [Slate]

Manufacturer of human-waste-based fertilizer has received a “nuisance odor violation.” Wait! You can do that?! exclaims those living downwind of the Bonnaroo music festival. [KHOU-TV]

Hey scientists, help the media get it right. Just like Paul did while correcting reports that a “poisonous gas” was produced when some fools threw liquid nitrogen into a swimming pool. [ChemBark]

In Print: Prince Harry Turns into a Doll and Other Misleading Headlines


Read all about it: Misleading headlines can even plague presidential elections. Credit: Byron Rollins/AP/Wikipedia

The Newscripts blog would like to be closer Internet buddies with our glossy print Newscripts column, so here we highlight what’s going on in the print issue of C&EN.

There’s an unfortunate trend that seems to be becoming increasingly popular in today’s science news world. The recipe goes like this: Take one misleading headline, add an introductory sentence that takes liberties with the subject matter it’s covering, and stir in one gullible blogosphere, and before you know it, you have a distorted science news story that appears to be popping up everywhere.

That’s the controversy that C&EN Senior Editor Carmen Drahl took on in last week’s Newscripts column. Carmen stumbled upon a press release purporting to have found a way to analyze human health through the measurement of genetic material. She called bullocks on the claim, and the journal responsible for the press release apologized.

According to Carmen, this incident is nothing new. She says National Geographic blogger Ed Yong and many others have been leading a battle against misleading public relations for years. She also remembers stumbling across two particularly dubious “news stories” herself. One centered on the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) Project. As Carmen remembers, the project’s attempts to catalog the pieces that make up the genome led to press releases that claimed so-called junk DNA served a life function, which in turn led to a barrage of articles both deriding the articles as hype and asking for clarification on what constitutes as “junk.”

Continue reading →

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Sophia Cai, Bethany Halford, and Jeff Huber.

Credit: The New Institute on Flickr

Credit: The New Institute on Flickr

In an alternate universe, we all live in houses built from Heineken bottles. [Gizmodo]

A quadrotor helicopter deftly navigates a 3-D obstacle course. It’s controller? A human brain (with video). [iO9]

Abbotsford, British Columbia, has an answer for its homeless problem: chicken poop. [Sun News]

Finally, something Justin Bieber’s fans and non-Beliebers can both be excited about—he’s registered for a trip to space. [NBC News]

Just as Justin Bieber feels prepared for space, astronaut Buzz Aldrin feels prepared for rocking out on stage (with video). [iO9]

A patent for thwarting the paparazzi with technology. [Guardian]

Researchers find evidence that fetuses practice crying in the womb, lending credence to all those older siblings who have been wrongfully punished for their younger siblings’ fake tears. [BBC]

Dark “hole” appeared in the sun last week, finally legitimizing the prophecy made by Soundgarden’s “Back Hole Sun” in 1994. [The Atlantic]

Our bridges and highways are crumbling, but the Romans made concrete that’s lasted more than 2,000 years. These folks think they know the secret to the ancients’ success. [UC Berkeley]

South Korean firm starts contest to find the U.K. dog that most deserves to be cloned. The competition brings to light ethica—look, cute puppies!!!! [LiveScience]

Here’s a shocker: eHarmony’s scientific adviser finds that couples who meet online have happier marriages. [iO9]