The dihydrogen monoxide parody involves calling water by an unfamiliar chemical name, most often "dihydrogen monoxide" (DHMO), and listing some of water's well-known effects in a particularly alarming manner, such as accelerating corrosion and causing suffocation. The parody often calls for dihydrogen monoxide to be banned, regulated, or labeled as dangerous. It demonstrates how a lack of scientific literacy and an exaggerated analysis can lead to misplaced fears.
The parody has been used with other chemical names, including "dihydrogen oxide", "hydroxyl acid", and "hydroxylic acid".
Evolution of metal ions in biological systems refers to the incorporation of metallic ions into living organisms and how it has changed over time. Metal ions have been associated with biological systems for billions of years, but only in the last century have scientists began to truly appreciate the scale of their influence. Major (iron, manganese, magnesium and zinc) and minor (copper, cobalt, nickel, molybdenum, tungsten) metal ions have become aligned with living organisms through the interplay of biogeochemical weathering and metabolic pathways involving the products of that weathering. The associated complexes have evolved over time.
Natural development of chemicals and elements challenged organisms to adapt or die. Current organisms require redox reactions to induce metabolism and other life processes. Metals have a tendency to lose electrons and are important for redox reactions.
Metals have become so central to cellular function that the collection of metal-binding proteins (referred to as the metallomes) accounts for over 30% of all proteins in the cell. Metals are known to be involved in over 40% of enzymatic reactions, and metal-binding proteins carry out at least one step in almost all biological pathways.
Metals are also toxic so a balance must be acquired to regulate where the metals are in an organism as well as in what quantities. Many organisms have flexible systems in which they can exchange one metal for another if one is scarce. Metals in this discussion are naturally occurring elements that have a tendency to undergo oxidation. Vanadium, molybdenum, cobalt, copper, chromium, iron, manganese, nickel, and zinc are deemed essential because without them biological function is impaired.
The Great Oxidation Event (GOE), sometimes also called the Great Oxygenation Event, Oxygen Catastrophe, Oxygen Crisis, Oxygen Holocaust, or Oxygen Revolution, was a time period when the Earth's atmosphere and the shallow ocean experienced a rise in oxygen, approximately 2.4 billion years ago (2.4 Ga) to 2.1–2.0 Ga during the Paleoproterozoic era. Geological, isotopic, and chemical evidence suggests that biologically induced molecular oxygen (dioxygen, O2) started to accumulate in Earth's atmosphere and changed Earth's atmosphere from a weakly reducing atmosphere to an oxidizing atmosphere, causing almost all life on Earth to go extinct. The cyanobacteria producing the oxygen caused the event which enabled the subsequent development of multicellular forms.
- "Great Oxidation Event" | 2019-07-21 | 64 Upvotes 24 Comments
The M44 cyanide device (also called a cyanide gun or cyanide trap) is used for the killing of coyotes, feral dogs, and foxes. It is made from four parts: a capsule holder wrapped with cloth or other soft material, a small plastic capsule containing 0.88 grams of sodium cyanide, a spring-powered ejector, and a 5-7 inch stake. To install the trap, the stake is first driven down into the ground, and then the capsule is put in the holder, screwed onto the cocked ejector, and secured to the stake. The wrapped capsule holder is smeared with scented bait to attract coyotes and make them bite and pull on it. (The use of a bite-and-pull action makes the trap less likely to be set off by non-canine wildlife.) When the trap is triggered, the spring propels a dose of sodium cyanide into the animals's mouth, and the sodium cyanide combines with water in the mouth to produce poisonous cyanide gas. In addition to the cyanide, the capsule contains Day-Glo fluorescent particle marker (orange in capsules used by the Wildlife Services, and yellow in capsules prepared for other users).
- "M44 (Cyanide Device)" | 2019-08-09 | 70 Upvotes 22 Comments
Petrichor () is the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil. The word is constructed from Greek petra (πέτρα), meaning "stone", and īchōr (ἰχώρ), the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology.
- "The official term for the smell after it rains" | 2009-12-21 | 148 Upvotes 36 Comments
Nitrophenyl pentadienal, nitrophenylpentadienal, NPPD, or METKA (Russian for "mark") colloquially known as "spy dust", is a chemical compound used as a tagging agent by the KGB during the Cold War Soviet Era. Soviet authorities in Moscow tracked Americans by applying an almost invisible powder to their clothing, cars, doorknobs and other objects. Some other variants of "spy dust" may have contained luminol and would glow under ultraviolet light.
- "Spy Dust (Nitrophenyl Pentadienal)" | 2020-05-05 | 61 Upvotes 23 Comments
Borax, also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate, is an important boron compound, a mineral, and a salt of boric acid. Powdered borax is white, consisting of soft colorless crystals that dissolve in water. A number of closely related minerals or chemical compounds that differ in their crystal water content are referred to as borax, and the word is usually used to refer to the octahydrate. Commercially sold borax is partially dehydrated.
Borax is a component of many detergents, cosmetics, and enamel glazes. It is used to make buffer solutions in biochemistry, as a fire retardant, as an anti-fungal compound, in the manufacture of fiberglass, as a flux in metallurgy, neutron-capture shields for radioactive sources, a texturing agent in cooking, as a cross-linking agent in Slime, as an alkali in photographic developers, as a precursor for other boron compounds, and along with its inverse, boric acid, is useful as an insecticide.
In artisanal gold mining, borax is sometimes used as part of a process (as a flux) meant to eliminate the need for toxic mercury in the gold extraction process, although it cannot directly replace mercury. Borax was reportedly used by gold miners in parts of the Philippines in the 1900s.
Borax was first discovered in dry lake beds in Tibet and was imported via the Silk Road to the Arabian Peninsula in the 8th century AD. Borax first came into common use in the late 19th century when Francis Marion Smith's Pacific Coast Borax Company began to market and popularize a large variety of applications under the 20 Mule Team Borax trademark, named for the method by which borax was originally hauled out of the California and Nevada deserts.
- "Borax" | 2021-09-05 | 81 Upvotes 47 Comments
Fluoroantimonic acid is a mixture of hydrogen fluoride and antimony pentafluoride, containing various cations and anions (the simplest being H
6). This substance is a superacid that can be excess of a quadrillion times stronger than 100% pure sulfuric acid, depending on proportion of its ingredients. It has been shown to protonate even hydrocarbons to afford pentacoordinate carbocations (carbonium ions). Extreme caution needs to be in place when handling fluoroantimonic acid. It is exceptionally corrosive, but can be stored in containers lined with PTFE (Teflon).
- "Fluoroantimonic Acid" | 2022-01-09 | 10 Upvotes 2 Comments