Iron is one of the most abundant elements in the Universe, along with lighter elements like hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon. Out in interstellar space, there should be abundant quantities of iron in its gaseous form. So why, when astrophysicist look out into space, do they see so little of it?
Chemist John Dalton proposed the theory that all matter and objects are made up of particles called atoms, and this is still accepted by the scientific community, almost two centuries later. Each of these atoms is each made up of an incredibly small nucleus and even smaller electrons, which move around at quite a distance from the centre.
A simple chemistry method could vastly enhance how scientists search for signs of life on other planets. The test uses a liquid-based technique known as capillary electrophoresis to separate a mixture of organic molecules into its components. It was designed specifically to analyze for amino acids, the structural building blocks of all life on Earth
New model could help scientists design materials for artificial photosynthesis. Plants and other photosynthetic organisms use a wide variety of pigments to absorb different wavelengths of light. MIT researchers have now developed a theoretical model to predict the spectrum of light absorbed by aggregates of these pigments, based on their structure. The new model could help guide scientists in designing new types of solar cells made of organic materials that efficiently capture light and funnel the light-induced excitation, according to the researchers.
A hot and dense mass of complex molecules, cocooning a newborn star, has been discovered by a Japanese team of astronomers using ALMA. This unique hot molecular core is the first of its kind to have been detected outside the Milky Way galaxy. It has a very different molecular composition from similar objects in our own galaxy — a tantalising hint that the chemistry taking place across the Universe could be much more diverse than expected.
Philosophy asks some fundamental and probing questions of itself. What is it? Why do we do it? What can it achieve? As a starting point, the word “philosophy” comes from the Greek words meaning a love of wisdom. And anyone who does it is trying to make sense of the world around them. In that way, philosophers are a bit like scientists.
At drinks parties and dinners, if someone asks what I do for a living, I always say: “Synthetic chemist … I make new molecules … especially those that shouldn’t exist.” People typically respond that they were not very good at chemistry at school – or they enquire about explosions and smells. And there, usually, the conversation ends.