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The Alchemist Newsletter: Apr 11, 2012

by chemweb last modified 04-13-12 08:40 AM
The Alchemist - April 11, 2012
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April 11, 2012

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publishers' select  New
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issue overview
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pharma: Remote resistance
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materials: Under pressure
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geochem: Mind the copper
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conservation: Saving the movies
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carbon: Graphene under strain
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policy: Sign of cancer
 
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The Alchemist takes a virtual trip to New Mexico this week to learn of resistant bacteria. He also discovers that counter intuitively putting certain zeolites under pressure can open up the entrances to their pores. In geochemistry, we learn why copper is not found so commonly at the Earth's surface and could point the way to finding new sources. New technology could kick up a stink in Hollywood by finding a way to detect mould growth on old film reels. Graphene is in the news again, this time putting it under strain apparently makes it behave as if it were in a magnetic field. Finally, the GHS has released its new chemical hazard symbol for carcinogens to no little controversy.

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Remote resistance

The Lechuguilla Cave in New Mexico, one of the deepest and largest in the world has remained isolated from human contact for millions of years and yet scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, have discovered a whole tranche of bacteria resistant to modern antibiotics in this remote environment. "Our study shows that antibiotic resistance is hard-wired into bacteria, it could be billions of years old, but we have only been trying to understand it for the last 70 years," explains research leader Gerry Wright. "This has important clinical implications. It suggests that there are far more antibiotics in the environment that could be found and used to treat currently untreatable infections."

arrowKey to New Antibiotics?

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Under pressure

Squeezing natrolite, a porous aluminosilicate zeolites mineral, can open up its pores allowing ions as large as europium (or perhaps uranium) inside. The phenomenon was discovered by an international team based at the University of South Carolina and Stanford University, USA and Yonsei University, Korea. "With natrolite, people have always said you can't get europium ions in there. But under pressure, you can," says USC's Thomas Vogt. The auxetic behavior may be counter-intuitive in that diamond anvil pressure opens a window for larger ions to migrate into the pores. The exchange of europium ions shows promise for nuclear waste processing as uranium ions are a similar size.

arrowCrushing pressure, swelling pores

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Mind the copper

Apparently, nature conspires at scales both large and small - from the truly tectonic to molecular mundanity to keep Earth's copper buried many miles below ground. "Everything throughout history shows us that Earth does not want to give up its copper to the continental crust," explains Cin-Ty Lee of Rice University. "Both the building blocks for continents and the continental crust itself, dating back as much as 3 billion years, are highly depleted in copper." Lee and colleagues have investigated Earth’s arc magmas - the molten building blocks for continents - and looked at the xenoliths, rocks that formed deep inside Earth and were carried up to the surface in volcanic eruptions, to help them explain why surface copper is scarce. Their findings could help us locate hidden caches of the invaluable metal as ready supplies dwindle and the price of the raw metal soar.

arrowCopper chains: Study reveals Earth’s deep-seated hold on copper

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Saving the movies

Old movies do not age well…at least in terms of the chemical degradation of the film on which they are printed. Fungi are often to blame, digesting the material and generating noxious odors and unwatchable films in the process. Now, the UK’s North West Film Archive has worked with researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) to find a way to detect these problematic odors and act as an early-warning system for fungal infection of film. The technology could alert conservators to a growing problem before it causes significant damage to the film and before odor compounds reach levels hazardous to human health.

arrowStinky, Degrading Film And How To Stop It

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Graphene under strain

Graphene is light, strong and has unusual optoelectronic properties. Now, researchers at the University of Arkansas and elsewhere have worked together to develop a technique for controlling the mechanical strain in freestanding graphene sheets over tiny squares of copper. The team suggests that controlling the strain of freestanding graphene could allow them to fine tune its properties for particular applications. “If you subject graphene to strain, you change its electronic properties,” says Salvador Barraza-Lopez. Inducing strain in the material causes it to behave as if it were in a magnetic field, a phenomenon that might be exploited in electromechanical systems.

arrowNew Method Offers Control of Strain on Graphene Membranes

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Sign of cancer

The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) is the new international standard for shipping and labeling chemicals so that their hazards are communicated in a logical fashion. The organization has now released a new symbol representing a carcinogenic hazard. The symbol is a red diamond within which is a silhouetted person emblazoned with a six-pointed device, not dissimilar to a cartoon snowflake, purportedly representing the growth of errant cancer cells and their spread. The new symbol has garnered some controversy as not being particularly logical nor representing carcinogenicity in a logical manner despite the organization's intentions.

arrowWhat is that thing? The new GHS symbol for carcinogens

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Previous Issues
Mar 28, 2012
Mar 17, 2012
Feb 29, 2012
Feb 17, 2012
Jan 26, 2012
Jan 13, 2012
Dec 29, 2011
Dec 16, 2011
Nov 23, 2011
Nov 11, 2011
Oct 28, 2011
Oct 14, 2011
Sep 28, 2011
Sep 16, 2011
Aug 30, 2011
Aug 19, 2011
Jul 27, 2011
Jul 14, 2011
Jun 29, 2011
Jun 17, 2011
May 26, 2011
May 12, 2011
Apr 29, 2011
Apr 15, 2011
Mar 25, 2011
Mar 11, 2011
Feb 25, 2011
Feb 10, 2011
Jan 26, 2011
Jan 12, 2011
Dec 29, 2010
Dec 14, 2010
Nov 23, 2010
Nov 12, 2010
Oct 27, 2010
Oct 13, 2010
Sep 30, 2010
Sep 15, 2010
Aug 25, 2010
Aug 11, 2010
Jul 28, 2010
Jul 14, 2010
Jun 23, 2010
Jun 8, 2010
May 26, 2010
May 17, 2010
Apr 28, 2010
Apr 16, 2010
Mar 23, 2010
Mar 9, 2010
Feb 24, 2010
Feb 9, 2010
Jan 26, 2010
Jan 12, 2010
Dec 23, 2009
Dec 13, 2009
Nov 24, 2009
Nov 11, 2009
Oct 28, 2009
Oct 14, 2009
Sep 21, 2009
Sep 9, 2009
Aug 26, 2009
Aug 11, 2009
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Mar 25, 2009
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Jan 22, 2008
Jan 08, 2008

 
   

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