Chemical History

From Twitching Worms to Nonbrowning Apples

The tiny worm’s twitch was hardly noticeable, but with that slight shudder science took a giant leap! A leap big enough to lead to a Nobel Prize that would pave the way to apples that will not brown, onions that will not make you cry, cotton seeds that you can eat and diseases that you can treat. [To read more click on Title.]

The American Greenback

The American “greenback,” probably the most famous paper currency in the world, owes its vibrant hue to a Canadian discovery. The “green” is chromium oxide, a refined version of chromite, a naturally occurring ore in the Earth’s crust. This ore is also the source of chromium metal which is produced by heating the ore in the presence of silicon and aluminum. The metal derives its name from the Greek “chroma” meaning colour [To read more click on Title.]

The Crooked House

Agatha Christie's "The Crooked House" is a great story. The plot revolves around an elderly tycoon who requires daily insulin shots. He also suffers from glaucoma for which he has been prescribed eyedrops. Everything is fine until someone in the "Crooked House" switches the eyedrops with the insulin. Murder most foul! Does the chemistry make sense? Let's do a little detective work of our own. [To read more click on Title.]

Cyanoacrylate Glue, aka “Super Glue” aka “Krazy Glue

Harry Wesley Coover Jr., the inventor of “Super Glue” recently passed away at the age of 94. Super Glue is an adhesive with extraordinary bonding capabilities – just a couple of drops of the liquid and you can virtually glue anything together permanently! Remember the construction worker holding onto his helmet which is attached only by a drop of glue to a beam? A bit of creative marketing here unless the worker had super strength in his arms. [To read more click on Title.]

Happy Birthday Harry Houdini!

March 24, 1876 was a historic day both in the world of science and the world of entertainment. That’s when a man who would become a legend in both entered this world. Born as Erich Weiss, he would make his mark as Harry Houdini. I’m into magic and I’m into science, so I’m obviously a fan. But I have another reason to be interested in the most famous magician of all time. Harry Houdini’s name will forever be linked with McGill University! [To read more click on Title.]