Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Crazy Chemistry

Chemistry is a very interesting subject, (if you understand the way they talk at all.) Chemistry is all about chemicals, elements, gases, and chemical formulas . If you like that kind of thing, then great. If you don't, you're normal. If you don't hate but don't love, you're like me. I think I'll start this with a few basic facts.

1. Mercury fumes can make you insane. Hats used to be treated with mercury, so the hat-makers were often slightly crazy. That's where the expression 'mad as a hatter' comes from.(I can tell you where 'mad as a March hare' comes from, but I'll save that for another day.)
2. Toast is made when the carbon in the bread is burned.
3. Copper turns green when it is exposed to air pollution. That's why the Statue of Liberty is green.
4. Eighteenth century soap was made from boiling fat and soda. But the alkali in them could dissolve your skin! Fortunately, not too many people could afford soap at that time.

Okay, that's over.

Ever heard of bucky balls? That's another name for nanotubes. They are the base for nanotechnology. They are huge: one billionth of a meter wide! Nanotechnology is trying to discover how to join these atoms together naturally. They each have 60 atoms; no more, no less. They are stronger than diamonds and could be created from sewage, charcoal,etc. as they are carbon. They could be used for wiring and building. They are part of the future of chemistry.

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