Topic: Chemistry

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Hiding Nobel prizes in plain sight


Aqua regia (; from Latin, lit. "regal water" or "king's water") is a mixture of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid, optimally in a molar ratio of 1:3. Aqua regia is a yellow-orange (sometimes red) fuming liquid, so named by alchemists because it can dissolve the noble metals, gold and platinum, though not all metals.

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Bacteria in clouds

Climate change Meteorology Chemistry

In meteorology, a cloud is an aerosol consisting of a visible mass of minute liquid droplets, frozen crystals, or other particles suspended in the atmosphere of a planetary body or similar space. Water or various other chemicals may compose the droplets and crystals. On Earth, clouds are formed as a result of saturation of the air when it is cooled to its dew point, or when it gains sufficient moisture (usually in the form of water vapor) from an adjacent source to raise the dew point to the ambient temperature.

They are seen in the Earth's homosphere (which includes the troposphere, stratosphere, and mesosphere). Nephology is the science of clouds, which is undertaken in the cloud physics branch of meteorology.

The two methods of naming clouds in their respective layers of the atmosphere are Latin and common. Cloud types in the troposphere, the atmospheric layer closest to Earth's surface, have Latin names due to the universal adoption of Luke Howard's nomenclature. Formally proposed in 1802, it became the basis of a modern international system that divides clouds into five physical forms that appear in any or all of three altitude levels (formerly known as étages). These physical types, in approximate ascending order of convective activity, include stratiform sheets, cirriform wisps and patches, stratocumuliform layers (mainly structured as rolls, ripples, and patches), cumuliform heaps, and very large cumulonimbiform heaps that often show complex structures. The physical forms are divided by altitude level into 10 basic genus-types.

The Latin names for applicable high-level genera in the troposphere carry a cirro- prefix, and an alto- prefix is added to the names of the mid-level genus-types. Clouds with sufficient vertical extent to occupy more than one altitude level are officially classified as low- or mid-level according to the altitude range at which each initially forms. However they are also more informally classified as multi-level or vertical, which along with low level clouds, do not carry any altitude related prefixes. Most of the genera can be subdivided into species and further subdivided into varieties. Very low stratiform clouds that extend down to the Earth's surface are given the common names fog and mist, but have no Latin names.

Several cloud types that form higher up in the stratosphere and mesosphere have common names for their main types, which may have the appearance of stratiform sheets, cirriform wisps, or statocumuliform bands or ripples. They are seen infrequently, mostly in the polar regions of Earth. Clouds have been observed in the atmospheres of other planets and moons in the Solar System and beyond. However, due to their different temperature characteristics, they are often composed of other substances such as methane, ammonia, and sulfuric acid, as well as water.

The tabular overview that follows is very broad in scope. It draws from several methods of cloud classification, both formal and informal, used in different levels of the Earth's homosphere by a number of cited authorities. Despite some differences in methodologies and terminologies, the classification schemes seen in this article can be harmonized by using a cross-classifation of form and level to derive the 10 tropospheric genera, the fog and mist that forms at surface level, and several additional major types above the troposphere. The cumulus genus includes four species that indicate vertical size and structure. This table should therefore not be seen as a strict or singular classification, but as an illustration of how various major cloud types are related to each other and defined through a full range of altitude levels from Earth's surface to the "edge of space".

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DNA Computing

Computing Computer science Biology Chemistry Genetics

DNA computing is a branch of computing which uses DNA, biochemistry, and molecular biology hardware, instead of the traditional silicon-based computer technologies. Research and development in this area concerns theory, experiments, and applications of DNA computing. The term "molectronics" has sometimes been used, but this term has already been used for an earlier technology, a then-unsuccessful rival of the first integrated circuits; this term has also been used more generally, for molecular-scale electronic technology.

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Dry Water


Dry water , an unusual form of "powdered liquid", is a water–air emulsion in which tiny water droplets, each the size of a grain of sand, are surrounded by a sandy silica coating. Dry water actually consists of 95% liquid water, but the silica coating prevents the water droplets from combining and turning back into a bulk liquid. The result is a white powder that looks very similar to table salt. It is also more commonly known among researchers as empty water.

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Military history Military history/North American military history Military history/United States military history Military history/Military science, technology, and theory Military history/Weaponry Physics Chemistry

FOGBANK is a code name given to a material used in nuclear weapons such as the W76, W78 and W80.

FOGBANK's precise nature is classified; in the words of former Oak Ridge general manager Dennis Ruddy, "The material is classified. Its composition is classified. Its use in the weapon is classified, and the process itself is classified." Department of Energy Nuclear Explosive Safety documents simply describe it as a material "used in nuclear weapons and nuclear explosives" along with lithium hydride (LiH) and lithium deuteride (LiD), beryllium (Be), uranium hydride (UH3), and plutonium hydride.

However National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Administrator Tom D'Agostino disclosed the role of FOGBANK in the weapon: "There's another material in the—it's called interstage material, also known as fog bank", and arms experts believe that FOGBANK is an aerogel material which acts as an interstage material in a nuclear warhead; i.e., a material designed to become a superheated plasma following the detonation of the weapon's fission stage, the plasma then triggering the fusion-stage detonation.

Hypothetical types of biochemistry

Biology Science Fiction Chemistry

Hypothetical types of biochemistry are forms of biochemistry speculated to be scientifically viable but not proven to exist at this time. The kinds of living organisms currently known on Earth all use carbon compounds for basic structural and metabolic functions, water as a solvent, and DNA or RNA to define and control their form. If life exists on other planets or moons, it may be chemically similar; it is also possible that there are organisms with quite different chemistries—for instance, involving other classes of carbon compounds, compounds of another element, or another solvent in place of water.

The possibility of life-forms being based on "alternative" biochemistries is the topic of an ongoing scientific discussion, informed by what is known about extraterrestrial environments and about the chemical behaviour of various elements and compounds. It is of interest in synthetic biology and is also a common subject in science fiction.

The element silicon has been much discussed as a hypothetical alternative to carbon. Silicon is in the same group as carbon on the periodic table and, like carbon, it is tetravalent. Hypothetical alternatives to water include ammonia, which, like water, is a polar molecule, and cosmically abundant; and non-polar hydrocarbon solvents such as methane and ethane, which are known to exist in liquid form on the surface of Titan.

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You don't know ice. Neither do I, apparently

Physics Meteorology Chemistry Geology Limnology and Oceanography Materials

Ice is water frozen into a solid state. Depending on the presence of impurities such as particles of soil or bubbles of air, it can appear transparent or a more or less opaque bluish-white color.

In the Solar System, ice is abundant and occurs naturally from as close to the Sun as Mercury to as far away as the Oort cloud objects. Beyond the Solar System, it occurs as interstellar ice. It is abundant on Earth's surface – particularly in the polar regions and above the snow line – and, as a common form of precipitation and deposition, plays a key role in Earth's water cycle and climate. It falls as snowflakes and hail or occurs as frost, icicles or ice spikes.

Ice molecules can exhibit eighteen or more different phases (packing geometries) that depend on temperature and pressure. When water is cooled rapidly (quenching), up to three different types of amorphous ice can form depending on the history of its pressure and temperature. When cooled slowly correlated proton tunneling occurs below −253.15 °C (20 K, −423.67 °F) giving rise to macroscopic quantum phenomena. Virtually all the ice on Earth's surface and in its atmosphere is of a hexagonal crystalline structure denoted as ice Ih (spoken as "ice one h") with minute traces of cubic ice denoted as ice Ic. The most common phase transition to ice Ih occurs when liquid water is cooled below 0 °C (273.15 K, 32 °F) at standard atmospheric pressure. It may also be deposited directly by water vapor, as happens in the formation of frost. The transition from ice to water is melting and from ice directly to water vapor is sublimation.

Ice is used in a variety of ways, including cooling, winter sports and ice sculpture.

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Marvin Pipkin, inventor of the frosted light bulb

Biography Chemistry Florida

Marvin Pipkin (November 18, 1889 – January 7, 1977) was an American chemist. During his time in the United States Army he worked on gas masks. In his civilian life he invented a process for frosting the inside of incandescent light bulbs to cut down on the sharp glare and diffuse the light. He went on to make many other inventions and innovative improvements to the light bulb.

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Mirror life

Biology Molecular and Cell Biology Chemistry Genetics

Mirror life (also called mirror-image life, chiral life, or enantiomeric life) is a hypothetical form of life with mirror-reflected molecular building blocks. The possibility of mirror life was first discussed by Louis Pasteur. Although this alternative life form has not been discovered in nature, efforts to build a mirror-image version of biology's molecular machinery are already underway.

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Physics Chemistry Geology Rocks and minerals

A quasiperiodic crystal, or quasicrystal, is a structure that is ordered but not periodic. A quasicrystalline pattern can continuously fill all available space, but it lacks translational symmetry. While crystals, according to the classical crystallographic restriction theorem, can possess only two-, three-, four-, and six-fold rotational symmetries, the Bragg diffraction pattern of quasicrystals shows sharp peaks with other symmetry orders—for instance, five-fold.

Aperiodic tilings were discovered by mathematicians in the early 1960s, and, some twenty years later, they were found to apply to the study of natural quasicrystals. The discovery of these aperiodic forms in nature has produced a paradigm shift in the fields of crystallography. Quasicrystals had been investigated and observed earlier, but, until the 1980s, they were disregarded in favor of the prevailing views about the atomic structure of matter. In 2009, after a dedicated search, a mineralogical finding, icosahedrite, offered evidence for the existence of natural quasicrystals.

Roughly, an ordering is non-periodic if it lacks translational symmetry, which means that a shifted copy will never match exactly with its original. The more precise mathematical definition is that there is never translational symmetry in more than n – 1 linearly independent directions, where n is the dimension of the space filled, e.g., the three-dimensional tiling displayed in a quasicrystal may have translational symmetry in two directions. Symmetrical diffraction patterns result from the existence of an indefinitely large number of elements with a regular spacing, a property loosely described as long-range order. Experimentally, the aperiodicity is revealed in the unusual symmetry of the diffraction pattern, that is, symmetry of orders other than two, three, four, or six. In 1982 materials scientist Dan Shechtman observed that certain aluminium-manganese alloys produced the unusual diffractograms which today are seen as revelatory of quasicrystal structures. Due to fear of the scientific community's reaction, it took him two years to publish the results for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2011. On 25 October 2018, Luca Bindi and Paul Steinhardt were awarded the Aspen Institute 2018 Prize for collaboration and scientific research between Italy and the United States.

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