Akshat Rathi


Researchers asked to retract a Science paper have finally conceded to retraction more than a year after it was published. The much-criticised paper, published by researchers from Spanish National Research Council’s Institute of Catalysis and UK’s Bangor University, described the synthesis of 1676 quenched fluorescent dye-metabolite compounds.

Soon after publication of the paper, the work was heavily criticised by scientists around the world. They also pointed it to be a failure of Science‘s peer-review system which made it the topic of an editorial in Science in December 2009.

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Graphene cut by Nickel

Ni nanoparticles absorb carbon from graphene edges which then reacts with H2 to create methane © Nano Letters

New Scientist has published the second half of it’s 50 ideas to change science forever list, and it’s no surprise chemistry featured heavily again. So see the rest for yourself:

  1. Graphene: Although the Nobel prize went to physicists who found a new and convenient way of making this wonder material, no one can doubt the chemistry that  makes it so interesting. (See Chemistry World articles here, here, here)

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Chemistry and the big questions (C) University of Leicester, UK


After the Economist questioned the value of chemistry last week, today I read with keen interest seeking chemistry in the special article in New Scientist titled ‘50 ideas to change science forever’. Although they have only released 25 ideas in the current issue, I could find at least 10 ideas which were either all chemistry or had a heavy connection to chemistry.

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Human activity has skewed the balance in the earth’s nitrogen cycle. But how did the modern nitrogen cycle evolve? A recent review published in Science tries to answer that question and make suggestions about the future.

How did the nitrogen cycle of the earth start?

Most of the nitrogen in our atmosphere came from  the mantle (which still has a large amount of nitrogen stored in it, see image) in the chemically reduced ammonium (NH4+) form. The earliest organisms had nitrogen delivered to them from the earth’s core. Ultraviolet oxidation of ammonium salts to nitrogen gas helped increase the concentration of nitrogen in the atmosphere.


Nitrogen Contribution

(C) Science


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End of Chemistry?

If the polymath Charles Babbage was alive, I don’t think he would have said this: ‘With completion of the periodic table, though, and with modern understanding of chemical bonds as quantum phenomena caused by the pairing of electrons of opposite spins, chemistry as an intellectual discipline looks, to the outsider at least, to have been largely solved.’ But the Babbage from the Economist certainly seems to think so.

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Credit: ABC, AustraliaThis year the chemistry IgNobel prize was awarded to a team that proved oil and water don’t mix, the engineering IgNobel went for whale snot catching and the management IgNobel went to researchers who proved that organisations should promote people at random.

The celebration of science occurs annually with the announcement of the Nobel prizes. This is the time when science gets a lot of media coverage and scientists who have made a great impact on human lives are given their due recognition. At about the same time there is also a celebration of geeky humour that happens annually. It’s when the Annals of Improbable Research holds a party at Harvard University where real Nobel prize winners award the Ig Nobel prizes. These prizes are given to discoveries or inventions ‘that cannot, or should not, be reproduced’. (more…)

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