Pages tagged “chemistry”

20 Aug 2013

Unsearchableness and homochirality

Is there a word for things whose existence is hard to uncover by keyword search? I’m thinking about concepts, or solutions to problems, that aren’t too tricky to describe in words, but are difficult to find in a computerised system. For example, having an amateur interest in zoology, I find organisms like sea gooseberries interesting. Taxonomically, they branch off high up in the “tree of life” - but they’re pretty common, occurring all round the world in decent numbers.

Full post

10 May 2013

The structure of a smell

This is a post about the power of pictures and the smell of wee. Chemicals, in the macroscopic, room-temperature-and-pressure world that we inhabit, are defined by what they do. Cyclopentane is a flammable liquid, a solvent, it smells a bit like petrol - and so on. Structural formulae, to give them their proper appellation, are graphical representations of the arrangements of atoms within a molecule. Usually a few lines represent a carbon skeleton, and other atoms' elemental symbols are connected by lines representing covalent bonds.

Full post