December 2011



Christmas Cracker

A cracker of a show…

We wish you all a happy holiday and will see you in the new year, but if you find yourself missing out on your daily dose of chemistry we recommend you tune into BBC Radio 5 live on Thursday the 29th between 7 and 10 pm (UK time).

The Naked Scientists Chris Smith, who you’ll know from our podcasts, will be hosting a Cocktail Party from his house (yes, really – we’ve seen the cables currently stored in his spare room) including Darcy O’Neil, a cocktail chemist who spoke to Hayley Birch last year for her feature on cocktails. They’ll also be discussing the chemistry of cooking, as well as finding out live on air if a chocolate teapot really is useless and whether bread does always land butter side down, along with  answering 5 live listeners’ science questions. You can find out more here.

Following Chris will be Maggie Philbin with a show called The World Tomorrow, not that different from the name of the TV show Philbin used to present…

The press release for the whole night, with more details about the scientists taking part can be read at the BBC’s media centre site.

I’ll be adding this to my list of Christmas listening/viewing, along with the RI Christmas lectures, Dr Who and, ahem, Downton Abbey

Laura Howes

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What powers Santa’s sleigh?

So, on Saturday evening, Santa will fire up the reindeer and set off around the globe once again. In fact, you can track his flight. But how do those reindeer fly, it could all be to do with Christmas Spirit, but it’s long been suggested there’s a slightly more pharmacological explanation (more…)

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Here’s a quirky fact straight from the Journal of Environmental Monitoring. It turns out that a major river polluter in Sweden is the Uppsala Reggae Festival! (more…)

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Do your festive dinners need spicing up?

Fancy some science tricks to wow the guests around the Christmas dinner table with? Chemistry World has put together a small collection of videos that should help keep the kiddywinks quiet, wake up the snoozers and amuse even the more cynical table guests. If you like them let us know and if you have other tricks and experiments to share then tweet us or leave us a comment. (more…)

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AstraZeneca drops candidate compound – GSK makes £426m in brand sale – And Bayer plans four blockbusters (more…)

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What comes to mind when you hear the term E numbers? Hyperactive children? Or a simple labelling system for food additives? In this week’s Chemistry in its element podcast, Brian Clegg admits that while the health worries over tartrazine –  perhaps the most famous E number of all – might be justified, it brightens up our lives in other ways.

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Somehow Christmas time always feels more magical when there’s snow about. As snowflakes drift down and stack against frozen panes, you sink deeper into the sofa to sleep off the lunchtime overindulgence. And as you sit there the world goes silent as a white blanket settles leaving the landscape an undulating mass of indistinct shapes. But while we’re all familiar with these beautiful six-pointed stars of ice, have you ever stopped to think about how they form? What are the chemical and physical processes that make a snowflake grow into the shape it is?

(more…)

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

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HSDD drug candidate disappoints – Covidien planning pharma spin out – And statins against flu? (more…)

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It used to be just for jellyfish, but now everything from mice to monkeys is sporting that fetching green fluorescence. However, it’s not all fun and games and glowing gerbils – there’s some serious science here. Josh Howgego tells the story Osamu Shimomura and the green fluorescent protein in this week’s Chemistry in its element podcast.

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