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Getting excited!! Christmas by Shutterstock

Seven ways that chemistry puts the magic into Christmas

From the enticing aroma of the turkey in the oven to the “whoosh’” of the flames as the brandy-soaked pudding comes alight, Christmas is a wonderful time for the senses. But have you ever considered the…
Mass spectrometry will identify those explosive molecules. Marcia Cirillo/Flickr

The science of airport bomb detection: mass spectrometry

You’ve probably had your hand luggage swabbed after walking through the metal detector at the airport. Whatever molecules were picked up by the swab have been separated using gas chromatography. So how…
You have gas chromatography and mass spectrometry to thank for keeping you safe from explosives in air travel. Dustin Ground/Flickr

The science of airport bomb detection: chromatography

As the holidays draw near, many of us will hop on a plane to visit friends and family – or just get away from it all. Some will be subjected to a swab at the airport to test clothes and baggage for explosives…
It’s all science. Emmanuel Hebrard

Explainer: what Philae did in its 60 hours on Comet 67P

The drama of Philae’s slow fall, bounce and unfortunate slide into hibernation was one of the most thrilling science stories of a generation. But what in its short 60 hours of life on Comet 67P did it…
Grind, temperature, time and coffee-to-water ratio – nail these for the best coffee. Andy Ciordia/Flickr

The perfect cup of coffee boils down to four factors

Welcome to the second instalment in our series Chemistry of Coffee, where we unravel the delicious secrets of one of the most widely consumed drinks in the world. Here we look at how tweaking variables…
Winners of the Nobel Prize in chemistry: Eric Betzig, Stefan Hell and William Moerner. Matt Staley, HHMI / Bernd Schuller, Max-Planck-Institut / K. Lowder

Nobel Prize in chemistry: beating nature’s limits to build super-microscopes

Robert Hooke was a pioneer of microscopy, when back in the 17th century he drew stunning images of insects, plant cells and fossils. Since then microscopes that use light to magnify things we can’t see…
Ready, set, print me a reaction. Chaikom

Now you can turn your inkjet printer into a chemistry lab

If you stop and think about it for a moment, you will realise what an astonishing feat of precision engineering your colour printer is. It can take the primary colours – cyan, yellow, magenta and black…
Professor Yonath gained inspiration from an unlikely source … hibernating bears. EPA/Brais Lorenzo

‘I consider science a luxury’: In Conversation with Ada Yonath

Israeli crystallographer Ada Yonath shared the 2009 Nobel prize in Chemistry for her work the ribosome – a protein-building structure central to life found in all living cells. Professor Yonath determined…
Chilli might make it seem as though your face is on fire – so why is milk so soothing? Andrés Nieto Porras

Explainer: why chilli burns, and milk helps soothe the pain

Whether it’s a few flakes on a pizza or the spiciest vindaloo known to humankind, most people can tolerate or even enjoy the tingling, burning sensation chilli can bring. So how does chilli deliver its…

Boron ‘buckyball’ opens door to new nanotech

A hollow molecular shell made up of 40 boron atoms has been observed for the first time, potentially opening up the way for…
Space pants: not a universe away from powdered booze. Justbe74too

Powdered alcohol and space diapers have something in common

Powdered alcohol has been in the news this week. First we were told that a product called Palcohol was the hottest new thing to hit the US market, a powder that would dissolve in water to give different…

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