February 2011



28 February 2011: Have something to say about an article you’ve read on Chemistry World this week? Leave your comments below…

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Forest pays $1.2bn to merge with Clinical Data

US pharma company Forest Laboratories has agreed to buy Clinical Data for $30 (£19) per share in cash, equivalent to $1.2 billion, plus $6 per share payable if Viibryd (vilazodone) achieves certain commercial milestones. Forest intends to use existing cash to finance the deal. (more…)

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Brian Clegg uncovers the material that revolutionised manufacturing – the first truly man-made plastic – in this week’s Chemistry in its element podcast

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Six chemicals banned under Reach

The European Commission has moved to ban six chemicals under the Reach (registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals) regulation, marking the start of a new phase in the history of this piece of legislation. Six substances of very high concern (SVHCs) will be banned in the EU within the next three to five years except where special authorisations apply. The following chemicals have been moved from the candidate list to the authorisation list, Annex XIV: 5-tert-butyl-2,4,6-trinitro-m-xylene (‘musk’ xylene), 4,4′-diaminodiphenylmethane, hexabromocyclododecane, bis-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, benzyl butyl phthalate and dibutyl phthalate. More chemicals will make the transfer in the future as part of an ongoing process of assessment. The aim is to ensure that risks from SVHCs are properly controlled and that these substances are gradually replaced by alternatives. There are currently 46 SVHCs on the candidate list. (more…)

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Most chemists have some lab kit that they use all the time or that they feel gives the best results. For example, when I was completing my studies, the most vital bit of kit for me was the glove box, because I worked with a lot of air-sensitive compounds.

However, there is one bit of kit that sticks out in my mind even more than the glove box, because when I was introduced to chemistry at school, it was one of the first bits of kit I got to use. I am of course talking about the Bunsen burner. For me it symbolised chemistry throughout my education and therefore its creator – Robert Bunsen – is my chemistry hero.

In 1852 Robert Wilhelm Eberhard Bunsen took a job at the University of Heidelberg, in Germany. As part of the deal, the authorities agreed to build him a lab and as Heidelberg had just started installing coal-gas street lighting, Bunsen’s new lab was to have a gas supply. Bunsen, however, wanted to use the gas for heating as well as illumination. So while the lab was still under construction, in 1854, he teamed up with Peter Desaga, the university’s mechanic, to develop a new burner. (more…)

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21 February 2011: Have something to say about an article you’ve read on Chemistry World this week? Leave your comments below… (more…)

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Every chemist knows the periodic table – it lists the atoms from which everything else is made and is arguably the most important tool in chemistry.

Now maths researchers are creating their own version, a vast directory of all the fundamental shapes across three, four and five dimensions. It will comprise irreducible shapes, ones that cannot be divided into others. (more…)

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Sunday for me is Frontiers in Chemistry day, with two symposia as well as a topical lecture from the ever popular George Whitesides. Although I’m a bit spoilt for choice just like yesterday when I missed some molecular gastronomy from the White House chef as part of a session on the perception of taste. With so much choice it’s always difficult to pick what you’re going to have (at least for me), but my menu choices today were pretty tasty. (more…)

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I didn’t expect to have a conversation about J K Rowling today, but somehow that’s in part what I ended up discussing with Lawrence Principe after his lecture on alchemy this afternoon. Apparently, if you want an accurate history of Nicolas Flamel and don’t get distracted by the witchcraft and wizardry, Rowling’s account in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone is one of the best. (more…)

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Would you use a shampoo that told you it was made from waste? What about cooking in a kitchen made from biomass? Today James Clark reminded us that, despite the chemical industry being the 3rd least popular industry after nuclear power and the tobacco firms, we can’t do without it. More importantly for Clark, who runs the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence the traditional source of feedstock chemicals (oil) isn’t going to be around forever, so what are we going to do? How about the ultimate recycling? (more…)

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