August 2010 Entries

Copper Sulphate, Swimming Pools and Vineyards

Algae often invade swimming pools and make for greenish, cloudy water. A very small amount of copper sulfate added to the water improves the clarity and makes the pool more inviting. There is another benefit: the use of copper sulphate will cut down on the amount of chlorine or bromine used to disinfect the pool. Copper sulphate at such dilutions is an extremely safe substance and has been given a clean bill of health... [To read more click on Title.]

The Chemical Defense of the Bombardier Beetle

Based on their ability to discharge “chemical bombs” when threatened, bombardier beetles are aptly named. Beetles are different from other insects in that while they can fly, they cannot do so instantly. Their wings are stored under wing covers and have to be released before they can take to the air. Sort of like Clark Kent having to shed his everyday clothes before becoming Superman. [To read more click on Title.]

Acesulfame K

Believe it or not the artificial sweetener acesulfame potassium (acesulfame-K) was discovered through sloppy laboratory technique. Back in 1967 Karl Clauss, synthesizing some novel molecules at the Hoechst Chemical Company in Germany, licked his finger and noted a sweet taste. He immediately recognized the market potential of his finding but about twenty years of testing were needed before acesulfame won approval as an artificial sweetener. [To read more click on Title.]