Urea in the history of organic chemistry

Urea is one of the most important chemicals in use today – as a fertiliser and industrial raw material. It is also the chemical that gave birth to the science of organic chemistry. Let’s see how.

Vitalism
Until the early 19th century, people – including many scientists – believed in a theory called vitalism. Those who believed in this theory held that life was not subject to the laws of physics and chemistry. They believed that there was an unknown, even divine principle, that governed living organisms, called the ‘life spark’.

Because of this belief, it was thought that chemicals found in plant and animal bodies – like proteins and carbohydrates – were completely different from other chemicals like salts, acids and gases. Therefore, people thought that ‘organic’ chemicals (because they came from organs) could not be made artificially, but had to be extracted from living animals. This theory also stopped people from using inorganic chemicals to treat diseases.

Organic chemistry
The Wohler synthesis is the conversion of ammonium cyanate into urea. This chemical reaction was discovered in 1828 by Friedrich Wohler in an attempt to synthesize ammonium cyanate. It is considered the starting point of modern organic chemistry.

There was a huge amount of resistance to the idea that vitalism wasn’t correct. Indeed Wohler himself did not like it. Influential scientists like Justus von Liebig and Louis Pasteur weren’t convinced either. Many organic compounds still could not be made in the lab at all, from inorganic ones. (Even today, some very complicated molecules like insulin cannot be made in the lab without using living organisms.) The tide changed only in 1845, when Hermann Kolbe showed that carbon disulfide could be converted to acetic acid, the main ingredient of vinegar.

But meanwhile a whole lot of scientists saw the practical uses of Wohler’s discovery. For many organic chemicals like urea (till then obtained from kidneys), citric acid (obtained from lemons) and benzene (obtained from gum benzoin) were industrially very useful. If they could be made from inorganic chemicals, then they could be made cheaper and on a large scale.

Soon a huge industry had sprung up, with synthetic dyes (see the articles on Perkin and indigo) and drugs (see the article on salvarsan) being made on a large scale. Today, organic chemistry makes more than a million chemicals every year!

Put a lab on a chip

A team of URI engineers and students has developed (and are patenting) an advanced blood-testing technology that incorporates a Smartphone application, hand-held biosensor and credit card-sized cartridge to provide rapid, accurate biological analysis and wireless communication of blood test results.

“Today when you go to the lab to have a blood test, they take vials of liquid from you and you have to wait sometimes days to get the results,” said Mohammad Faghri, URI professor of mechanical engineering and the lead researcher on the project. “With our system, and just a drop of blood, you can have your blood tested when you walk into the doctor’s office and the results will be ready before you leave. Or you can do it at home and have the results sent to your doctor in real time.”

It’s the next step in an ongoing lab-on-a-chip project begun in 2005 by URI, in partnership with the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany that has generated enthusiasm among many sectors of the health care industry. “This area of research has tremendous economic development potential for spin-off companies, patents, and workforce training,” Faghri said.

The technology has evolved since its conception in the form of several undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral projects, to a shoebox-size device for commercial application last year, to the current hand-held device with several additional capabilities.

“The Smartphone app turns the system on. Users place a drop of blood from a finger prick on a disposable plastic polymer(such as styrene, the CAS number is 91261-65-3) cartridge and insert it into the hand-held biosensor. The blood travels through the cartridge in tiny channels to a detection site where it reacts with preloaded reagents that allow the sensor to detect certain biomarkers of disease. And then it sends the results securely back to your phone or to your doctor, all in about 20 minutes,” Faghri said.

URI is known for our interdisciplinary programs, and the lab-on-a-chip project is one of them. It brings students and faculty from several engineering disciplines, chemistry, physics, molecular biology, and even entomology. Funded by the National Science Foundation and Rhode Island Science & Technology Advisory Council, URI’s lab-on-a-chip research and technology could revolutionize pharmaceuticals, early detection of infections, and other health-related fields. That’s just the kind of stuff we like to do here.

The Significance Of Dextran In History

In the World War Ⅱ, soldiers injured on the battlefield often died of very low blood pressure before they could reach hospital. But there was a dramatic change when the Korean War happened. There was a miracle life saver around – dextran.

Dextran
Dextran is a complex carbohydrate, that is, a chain of sugar molecules strung together. It is a white powder which does not dissolve in water. Instead it absorbs water and swells into a loose jelly. So how did it help in the Korean War?

When a soldier is injured, he loses a lot of blood very quickly. This leads to loss of electrolytes and oxygen, and a sharp drop in blood pressure, endangering his life. He needs a blood transfusion immediately. But he cannot just be given any blood. If the blood groups do not match, there can be terrible complications.

During World War II, doctors tried transfusing plasma. Plasma is blood without any cells in it. It does not cause complications, and can immediately push up the blood pressure and replenish electrolytes. However, plasma can spoil easily, so it must be kept in ice all the time. An in the battlefield, where do you store plasma?

That’s where dextran helps. It can be carried dry, quickly mixed with water and salt and transfused to the patient. It pushes up the blood pressure immediately, while the saline helps restores some electrolytes. The patient can then be carried to a hospital where he can receive a proper blood transfusion.

How dextran was discovered
Dextran is made by bacteria. It is found in a place where you wouldn’t like it to be – dental plaque! It’s also found in small amounts in curd, and a fermented drink called kefir. But what was needed was a way to make dextran in large amounts.

In the 1940s, Allene Jeanes was a scientist at the USA’s Northern Regional Research Lab. A soft drink company had sent her a sample of their product, which had mysteriously become thick and gooey. She soon found that a bacterium had converted the sugar in the soda to dextran. Perhaps the bacteria had come from some worker’s dental plaque!

She found that the bacterium could be grown in the lab. It could grow in a vat of sugar solution, and make lots of dextran. That was then purified, dried, and sent on to Korea. There it would help soldiers survive the journey from battlefield to hospital, where they could get healed completely.

The Korean War ended in 1953, leaving Korea divided into two countries. But there was a clear winner of that war – dextran.

The substances behind the aroma in the king of fruits

The latest effort to decipher the unique aroma signature of the durian—revered as the “king of fruits” in southeast Asia but reviled elsewhere as the world’s foulest smelling food—has uncovered several new substances that contribute to the fragrance. The research appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Martin Steinhaus and colleagues explain that durian, available in Asian food shops in the United States and elsewhere, has a creamy yellowish flesh that can be eaten fresh or used in cakes, ice cream and other foods. Some people relish the durian’s smell. Others, however, regard it as nauseating, like rotten onions. Past research identified almost 200 volatile substances in durian. Lacking, however, was information on which of those make a contribution to the characteristic durian smell. The authors set out to identify the big chemical players in the durian’s odor signature.

An aroma extract dilution analysis applied on the volatile fraction isolated from Thai durian by solvent extraction and solvent-assisted flavor evaporation resulted in 44 odor-active compounds in the flavor dilution (FD) factor range of 1–16384, 41 of which could be identified and 24 that had not been reported in durian before. High FD factors were found for ethyl (2S)-2-methylbutanoate (fruity; FD 16384), ethyl cinnamate (honey; FD 4096), and 1-(ethylsulfanyl)ethanethiol (roasted onion; FD 1024), followed by 1-(ethyldisulfanyl)-1-(ethylsulfanyl)ethane (sulfury, onion), 2(5)-ethyl-4-hydroxy-5(2)-methylfuran-3(2H)-one (caramel), 3-hydroxy-4,5-dimethylfuran-2(5H)-one (soup seasoning), ethyl 2-methylpropanoate (fruity, also known as ethyl isobutyrate), ethyl butanoate (fruity), 3-methylbut-2-ene-1-thiol (skunky), ethane-1,1-dithiol (sulfury, durian), 1-(methylsulfanyl)ethanethiol (roasted onion), 1-(ethylsulfanyl)propane-1-thiol (roasted onion), and 4-hydroxy-2,5-dimethylfuran-3(2H)-one (caramel). Among the highly volatile compounds screened by static headspace gas chromatography–olfactometry, hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg), acetaldehyde (fresh, fruity), methanethiol (rotten, cabbage), ethanethiol (rotten, onion), and propane-1-thiol (rotten, durian) were found as additional potent odor-active compounds.

In doing so, they pinpointed 41 highly odor-active compounds, 24 of which scientists had not identified in durian before. Among the most prominent were substances associated with fruity, sweet, sulfurous and oniony smells. The oniony smelling odorants belonged to a compound class that had rarely been found in food before. Four of the newly discovered chemical compounds were previously unknown to science.

New Type Of Plastics

Things made of plastic, from credit cards to spoons to bags, have become so common in our lives that we can hardly think of life without them. Yet all plastics are made from petroleum, which will run out in a few decades. What do we do next?

How plastics are made
All plastics are polymers, that is they are made of a molecule which is itself made of hundreds of small molecules. These units are called monomers. Polyethylene (used in plastic bags) is made from a monomer unit called ethylene. Similarly styrofoam (used in disposable cups and plates) is made from a unit called styrene. PVC, which is used to make things like buckets and even plastic doors, is made from units of vinyl chloride linked to each other by chemical bonds. All these units ultimately come from petroleum. But the reserves of petroleum are quite rare, and will run out in our lifetime.

Plastic from potatoes
Potatoes contain a lot of starch (cellulose), which can be used to make a plastic-like material quite easily and cheaply. This plastic is not very strong or long-lasting. It is also very easily broken down by bacteria (see an article about eco-friendly plastic here). But that makes it the ideal material for making disposable spoons, cups, plates etc. In fact many companies have already begun to do so, and they have given it a nice name too – Spudware!

Plastic from chicken feathers and soybeans
The circuit board you see on electronic devices is made of a light but durable plastic, on which tiny electronic circuits are soldered on. As computers, mobile phones and other electronic gadgets spread through the world, we’ll need millions of these feather-bean boards!

Orangeware
A team from Cornell University found another way to make plastic. They used orange peels, and another material that is becoming increasingly common in our atmosphere – carbon dioxide. Orange peels contain a chemical called limonene (the same thing that gives the orange-y smell). The team found that you can convert it to limonene carbonate, which could then be polymerised into a useful plastic called poly-limonene carbonate (PLC). This is in fact a de-polluting plastic, because to make it you need to remove CO2 from the air, rather than add to it.

We hope that you’ll be inspired to make something equally clever from materials lying around the house too!

What’s the reason of hospital smell?

Ever stepped into a hospital, and immediately noticed the curious smell? It’s not the smell of disease, but of a particular disinfectant that hospitals prefer to use. This disinfectant is iodoform.

Iodoform

Iodoform is a compound of carbon, hydrogen and iodine, with the formula CHI3. It is used in hospitals and clinics as a mild disinfectant for cleaning the floors of the wards, corridors etc. It is not as strong-smelling as other disinfectants, which may disturb patients.

It can also be used as an antiseptic for treating skin infections, sores, bruises, boils, burns etc. When applied on the skin, iodoform decomposes to release iodine. It is iodine which acts as the actual antiseptic, killing bacteria and fungi. Iodoform is also safer than other antiseptics if it is accidentally swallowed.

Decline in use

Nowadays, newer kinds of antiseptics and disinfectants are available. These kill bacteria, fungi, insect larvae and worms much more effectively than iodoform. They also do not smell at all. Therefore modern hospitals are switching over to these antiseptics. And example is cetrimide (commonly sold as Savlon).

However iodoform is still useful in drug factories, where it is used as an intermediate in making many kinds of drug molecules.

What is olanzapine?

Zyprexa, the brand name of olanzapine, is in a family of drugs called “atypical antipsychotics.” It is also sometimes used to help treat delusions associated with other mental conditions such as bipolar disorder. These are the only conditions approved of by the FDA for this drug.

Function
Zyprexa works as both a sedative and a mood stabilizer by acting on chemistry within the brain. This can help a patient suffering from GAD to get needed rest. Ideally, Zyprexa is to be used in combination with talk therapy. It cannot cure anxiety all by itself. By being sedated and having the moods stay steady, the patient has a better chance to pay attention to the talk therapy and try out any suggestions.

Dosage
Olanzapine is available in pill form and also can be used as an intramuscular injection. However, injections are usually only given in a hospital setting.
The medicine is available as either a regular or orally disintegrating tablet, according to the Mayo Clinic. Adult schizophrenic patients usually start off at about 5 to 10 mg per day and usually do not exceed 20 mg per day. Those with bipolar disorder will usually need 5 to 15 mg per day, though as much as 20 mg may be needed to treat manic episodes. Olanzapine should not be taken with food.

Effects
People may experience one or more of the following side effects: blurred vision, other changes in vision, bloating of the arms, hands, feet, lower legs or face, clumsiness, problems talking and difficulty swallowing. It will also greatly increase your appetite. This combination of not wanting to move but wanting to eat causes you to gain weight. The most common side effect is significant weight gain, even over 20 pounds in 3 months.

Expert Insight
Zyprexa can often greatly help people suffering from anxiety. It can help them relax, rediscover some joys in life and to regain a sense of humor. In your doctor’s mind, the need to help your mental health will often take precedence over the possibility of weight gain from Zyprexa. Always tell your doctor any strange symptoms you suddenly develop when taking Zyprexa. The use of a cane or support when standing up is greatly recommended, or else you may get dizzy.

NASA Improve Baby Food: Lots More Information

When you think of baby formula, you probably don’t think of NASA or a space craft. The lead scientific team that invented the original baby food formula spent time as researchers for NASA, and it was there that they first conceived of a nutritional supplement that is now called Baby Formula all over the world.

In fact they were not even looking at nutrition for astronauts, but at creating oxygen in space!

While NASA researchers were exploring the idea of using algae as a way to create oxygen in outer space through the process of photosynthesis, they made a few new discoveries. During the research phase, certain types of algae were found to contain a couple of essential fatty acids that are present in human breast milk — Docosahexaenoic acid and Arachidonic acid.

This accidental discovery was researched and refined for years and was finally put to use in baby formula.

Healthier nerves and eyesight for babies

Many baby formulas are now enriched with DHA(Docosahexaenoic acid, the CAS number is 6217-54-5) and ARA. The human body naturally produces both DHA and ARA, and it’s been found that direct consumption of the two fatty acids can help babies — particularly premature babies — in their development.

While long-term benefits haven’t been proven yet, it appears that in the short term, both visual and neural developments are benefactors of this algae-enriched ingredient. The additives have only been in use since 2002, and while they’ve been FDA approved, the regulatory body has asked that companies that sell baby formula containing DHA and ARA monitor the effects for long-term study.

Thanks to NASA’s research, savvy parents now seek out DHA- and ARA-enriched formulas for their pre-term and full-term infants.

Main Toxic Chemicals In Beauty Products

People, especially women, use beauty products to look better, but unfortunately sometimes the short-term look is not worth the long-term damage that such products can do to our skin. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has revealed that an average American uses about 10 personal care products — from lipsticks to moisturizers — each day that contain hundreds of harmful ingredients.

The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 replaces the outdated federal law that holds no clauses against the presence of harmful chemicals in beauty products. According to this act, the Food and Drug Administration is vested with the power to ensure that products for personal use do not include any harmful ingredients.

Alcohol
Alcohol acts as a poisonous solvent. It is also known as a denaturant, or a chemical that brings changes to the structure of other chemical components. Alcohol is used as an ingredient in color rinses for the hair, hand lotions, after shave lotions and fragrances. It can cause nausea, headache and vomiting, flushing as well as depression. Other effects brought about by alcohol are dryness of hair and skin and cracks and fissures on the skin. These cracks can further develop as breeding grounds for bacteria.

SLS
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, abbreviated as SLS, is a common detergent found in everything from toothpastes to makeup. It is so powerful it is also found in automobile de-greasing solutions and commercial floor cleaners. This chemical can badly dry out skin, and becomes a carcinogen when mixed with some other common beauty product ingredients.

Diethanolamine and Triethanolamine
Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA) are chemicals that react with cosmetic ingredients that contain nitrites to form nitrosamines. Most of the nitrosamines are carcinogenic, or, they can cause cancer. These toxins mostly affect the liver and kidneys. These chemical reactions occur during the manufacturing process and while the cosmetics are stored in their containers.

Petrolatum
This chemical is known by several other names such as mineral oil jelly, liquid Vaseline and paraffinum. It is one of the main ingredients in baby oil and body lotion. It can cause the extraction of natural oils contained in the skin and bring about chapping and dryness. It is also known to cause premature aging and block the removal of harmful chemicals from the skin, thus causing acne and other skin problems.

Vitamin D2 For Bones In Body

Vitamin D2, or Ergocalciferol, is one of the most important forms of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential to humans for its ability to help with normal bone growth. Vitamin D2 is a fat-soluble sterol, which is an organic molecule that is found in plants and yeast. A vitamin D deficiency can lead to diseases like rickets in children and osteomalacia–softening of the bones–in adults.

History
In the 1920s, vitamin D2 was discovered through exposing invertebrates, such as fungi or plants, to ultraviolet. Pharmaceutical companies patented the process. Vitamin D2 is not made naturally in vertebrates, or animals with an internal skeletal system. Vitamin D2 is better than vitamin D3 at absorbing ultraviolet radiation. It is white in color and is not soluble in water but in organic solvents and vegetable oil.

Benefits
Vitamin D2 helps ensures the absorption of calcium happens in the body producing healthy bones, teeth and to help fight high blood pressure. Vitamin D2 may also help in the fight against osteoporosis and autoimmune diseases. Rickets today is often due to problems with the body’s absorption of vitamin D, diseases of the liver and kidney, or conditions that alter calcium in the body.

Sources
The recommended dose for vitamin D2 is 5 micrograms daily. Most multivitamins have the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D included in them. Luckily, Vitamin D is available in plentiful supply, from natural sources that are inexpensive, and even free.

Much of this requirement can be fulfilled by eating small portions of fatty fish. Grandmothers recommended cod liver oil for years for a reason–it’s packed with vitamins. Just one tablespoon provides 1360 IU of vitamin D, more than three times the daily requirement for most adults. Eggs are nature’s perfect food. Besides being packed with protein and good fats, they’re also a good source of vitamin D. But it’s all in the yolk, so go with the whole egg to get 20 IU.

Misunderstanding
Recent studies have suggested that vitamin D2 is not as efficient as vitamin D3 in biological value and its use in multivitamins should stop. Because vitamin D2 is manufactured, its stability and longevity is questionable. This can lead to issues with toxicity and loss of vitamin D concentration over time.

Researchers develop method for creating artificial fingerprints

A trio of researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Maryland has found a way to accurately recreate human fingerprints. The reason for doing so, the team writes in their paper published in the journal Analytical Methods, is to provide a means for testing fingerprints for other chemicals as part of forensics research efforts.

Scientists know that when people work with explosives or illegal substances such as drugs, tiny amounts of those substances are captured in the oils produced in the fingers and are subsequently left behind in fingerprints when those people touch something else. Forensic research has focused on ways to recreate the process in an artificial way to better understand what properties are involved so as to better understand what occurred before, during or after a crime has been committed.

Researchers at NIST are hoping to discover new analysis techniques that will reveal more information about a person who has left fingerprints at a crime scene. By recreating the process in a controlled way, it becomes possible to vary environmental conditions to see what impact they might have on prints that are left behind.

Previous attempts to create artificial fingerprints have revolved around inkjet printing techniques, but have failed due to the oily nature of the materials involved, principally, sebum, the oil that is actually found in human fingerprints. The new method developed by the team at NIST takes a different approach.

The team created a solution by dissolving sebum in heptane to cause it to liquefy, then added particles of an explosive material followed by polyisobutylene to force the particles to remain suspended in the solution. To apply the solution they built a device that has a pneumatically controlled piston inside of a tube with a ball on the end (similar to an ink pen) that allows a controllable amount of the solution to pass through when pressed against a surface. Upon application, the solvents evaporate leaving just the sebum with the suspended particles still in it. In refining the piston-ball configuration, the team has found that they were able to apply the material onto surfaces in pattern shapes that resemble human fingerprints.

How Much Do You Know About Collagen?

The word collagen is a familiar one, usually in the context of beauty products and skin rejuvenation, but most people know little about it. It is part of the connective tissue found all over our bodies and is made from protein and large amounts of two amino acids: hydroxylsine and hydroxyproline. Collagen has a triple-helix structure that gives it great tensile strength. These strands are composed of  proline, glycine, another form of proline called hydroxyproline and lysine.

Proline
According to the University of Arizona, proline is not actually an amino acid, but
an imino acid, yet it is still called an amino acid. It is called a nonessential amino acid, in that it does not have to be obtained from dietary means, but is manufactured in the liver from other amino acids. Proline is needed for the proper function of joints, tendons and ligaments and is also involved in strengthening heart muscle.

Glycine
Glycine is an amino acid, one of the building blocks of proteins, that composes
one-third of the collagen strand called a fibril. Fibrils are the strand of molecules that make up the collagen structure. Whereas most proteins contain very small quantities of glycine, it makes up a third of collagen. Glycine works as a neurotransmitter in the body.

Hydroxyproline
Hyrdoxyproline(also known as L-Hyrdoxyproline or (2S,4R)-4-Hydroxyproline
) is produced when a hydroxyl group, an oxygen-hydrogen molecule, is added to the amino acid proline. Vitamin C must be present in the human body for this hydroxyl group to be added. When vitamin C is absent in the diet, hydroxyproline synthesis is inhibited, resulting in certain diseases that are the result of lack of proper L-Hyrdoxyproline synthesis in the collagen molecule, such as difficulty in healing wounds and fractures, problems with blood vessels and the development of scurvy.

Foods
Eat legumes, in particular, peanuts,for a significant source of the amino acid
lysine. Include chickpeas in your menus as a healthy source of zinc, copper and selenium, minerals needed for collagen production. Satisfy your sweet tooth with deeply colored red and blue berries and fruits such as cherries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. They’ve been shown to contain anthocyanidins that help link collagen fibers together and strengthen connective tissue.

Eat red, green and orange vegetables to boost your antioxidants and collagen production. Support your collagen tissue by eating a variety of proteins. Fish, lean meats, eggs, low-fat dairy products and nuts and seeds are sources of lysine and proline amino acids. 

Fact & Treatment of Hepatitis B

Hepatitius B is a serious disease that causes inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis B is the most common liver disease in the world.Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Available alternative cures include herbal formulations, traditional Chinese medicine and homeopathic remedies.

Types of Hepatitis
According to Dr. Larry Altshuler in his book Balanced Healing, hepatitis A is contracted through contaminated food or water, or through contact with an infected person. About 99 percent of hepatitis A cases resolve themselves. Hepatitis B is a blood-borne illness most often caused by sexual contact, needle use and blood transfusion; approximately 10 percent of people with hepatitis B become chronic carriers. Hepatitis C is also a blood-borne illness and accounts for 16 percent of cases.

How Hepatitis is Spread
The best way to protect against transmission of the disease is to know how it is spread. Hepatitis is spread through an infected mother to her newborn child, sex with an infected partner, sharing needles and other personal items, such as toothbrushes, with an infected person and direct contact or exposure to blood of an infected person. You are also at risk if you travel to countries with high levels of Hepatitis infections. Guard against these situations and make sure to get tested for early detection of the disease.

Treaments
Entecavir hydrate
is an oral antiviral drug used in the treatment of hepatitis B infection. Entecavir hydrate is a nucleoside analog (more specifically, a guanine analogue) that inhibits reverse transcription, DNA replication and transcription in the viral replication process. Entecavir hydrate is more efficacious than previous agents used to treat hepatitis B (lamivudine and adefovir). Entecavir hydrate is also indicated for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B in adults with HIV/AIDS infection. However, Entecavir hydrate is not active against HIV.For adults, if you feel that you are at risk for hepatitis then you should contact your physician and discuss getting the vaccine.

Dr. Altshuler recommends several Chinese formulations if previous steps do not improve your symptoms or if your liver enzymes remain elevated. He suggests contacting a practitioner qualified in Chinese herbal medicine to determine which formulas are best for your symptoms. Improvements should be noted within three to six weeks but for maximum benefit the treatment should probably be taken longer.

About Shoe Polish

We love anything that shines, that looks good. In fact we are also concerned about the shoes that we wear. But have you ever given a thought on how the shoe polishes evolved and what is it that makes our otherwise dull shoe shine?

“Teddy bear Teddy bear turn around, teddy bear teddy bear touch the ground, teddy bear teddy bear polish your shoes, teddy bear teddy bear off to school”. This is a famous nursery rhyme that we all have learnt as kids. This rhyme stresses on the idea of polishing one’s shoes before going to school as polished shoes do look classy and good.

We love anything that shines, that looks good. In fact we are also concerned about the shoes that we wear. But have you ever given a thought on how the shoe polishes evolved and what is it that makes our otherwise dull shoe shine? Before getting onto the history, let us first know what shoe polish is!

What is shoe polish?
Shoe polish is a substance that is added externally to our shoes to make them look cleaner and help them shine better. It comes in the form of wax or cream. Shoe polish is made out of natural and synthetic products.

The history of shoe polish
The history of shoe polish takes us place to the year before 1900 when people polished their boots with a paste made out of ash, wax and tallow. Later around 1900, this product was improved by using different liquids and suspended solids like carbon dye, wax, gum Arabic, turpentine, naphtha and lanolin. These substances helped the shoe polish to stay in liquid form while the contents were inside the container but dry readily when it comes in contact with air.

In medieval period, people used a mixture of soda ash, wax, tallow and oil to soften and condition the leather and also make it waterproof. Around 1700s, shine was first added to the polish.

In 1800s, companies started coming up with polish products that helped in polishing other items like belts and so on.

In 1909, William Ramsay commercialized the first shoe shine polish and started selling it under the brand name of kiwi. During WWI and WWII there was lot of demand for shoe polish due to the excessive use of boots during the war period.

How are shoe polishes made?
Shoe polishes are made by melting the wax in an electric heater. The melted wax is held at a constant temperature and a mixture of various oils is heated separately. The heated mixture is then added to the wax along with distilled water and is heated. When the mixture reaches a temperature of 80 degree, turpentine oil is added. The mixture is then stirred and mixed continuously. Dyes are added if the polish is not a neutral colour. The mixed mass is then poured through a cooling chamber and is allowed to cool uniformly. The shoe polish is then packaged and sent to the market for sale.

What Causes Stained Aluminum Frames?

If you’ve seen mom or dad cooking rice in an aluminium pressure cooker, you might notice they put a slice of lemon in the cooker. Aluminum, like other metals, is susceptible to corrosion, oxygen in the air, as well as airborne dust and dirt. Wonder why they do that? What would happen if the lemon wasn’t there?

Let’s Understand Aluminium
Aluminium is an interesting metal. It is easy to beat into shape (malleable), so engineers
like it a lot for building things. It’s also very light in weight because it isn’t dense. And it doesn’t react very easily, so things made from aluminium don’t corrode. That makes it quite the opposite of iron or steel, which are heavy and rust easily.

This makes it a good material to make aeroplanes and space shuttles. But it also makes it a good material to make kitchen utensils. An aluminium cooker won’t leak aluminium ions when boiling rice in it (whereas a steel* cooker will). But over time, the acids present in food can cause some corrosion.

Why it blackens
There are two kinds of aluminium cooking vessels. The cheap ones are made of metallic
aluminium. ‘Anodised’ aluminium vessels have a protective coating (see below), but they’re more expensive.


Rice and dal and most other foods are generally acidic in content. During cooking, the acid
in the food helps the oxidation of aluminium to insoluble oxides. These settle on the base of the vessel, forming a dull grey layer. This layer is not smooth, so it can trap dirt, caramel (from some burnt sugar in the food) and other stuff, forming a dark stain which is difficult to clean.

What we can do about it
You can beat it by putting a slice of lemon (or a spoonful of vinegar) in the cooker while
cooking. There are acetate, oxalate(such as Magnesium Oxalate) and citrate ions present in the lemon, which react with the aluminium oxides, forming compounds that dissolve in water. You can also use potassium hydrogen tartarate (cream of tartar) to remove stains. The same principle works for hard water.

Or you can buy a cooker made of ‘anodised’ aluminium. ‘Anodising’ is a method by which the surface of the aluminium is oxidised using an electric current. A thin film of aluminium oxide forms on the surface. This thin film is smooth, and clings very tightly to the vessel. The advantage is that it is easier to clean, and prevents further corrosion of the aluminium by the acids in food.

Cream Of Tartar In Kitchen

 

Why are tarts and pastries made in bakeries so much smoother than when we make them at home? That’s because they use a secret ingredient – cream of tartar.

 

Uses in the kitchen

 

Chemists have another name for cream of tartar – they call it potassium hydrogen tartarate. It is a white, sour-tasting crystalline powder, and has many uses in the kitchen.

 

When you beat egg white, it produces foam that traps air. This is what helps make pastry light and fluffy. But the foam can break up, so bakers add a pinch of cream of tartar. This prevents the foam from collapsing. This helps the pastry remain smooth throughout.

 

Cream of tartar has many other uses too. If you make sugar syrup (for use with gulab jamuns, rasgullas etc), add a pinch of cream of tartar. That will prevent the sugar from crystallizing out of the syrup. Mixed with potassium chloride, it can serve as a substitute for salt. This is useful for people who have high blood pressure and should not take sodium.

 

If you add a pinch while boiling vegetables, it helps them keep their colour. This is because vegetable pigments are very sensitive to changes in pH. Cream of tartar acts a buffering agent, i.e. it prevents the pH from changing.

 

What do you do if you run out of baking powder, and the shops are closed? You can make your own with baking soda and cream of tartar(also known as Potassium bitartrate). When baking a cake, you can add a pinch each of these powders and mix well. The two chemicals react to form carbon dioxide in the oven, which causes the dough to rise. Baking soda alone will not work, as it needs an acid to activate it.

 

Cleaning agent

 

Cream of tartar is also a good rust remover. To use it, mix it with hydrogen peroxide and apply it on metallic objects. You can mix it with vinegar and use that mix to clean copper or brass utensils.Isn’t it a good chemical to have around the house?


Why Do Old Books Turn Yellow?

When you go into a big library, you’ll see many old books that have become yellow and brittle. Why did that happen? You may once wondered that, let’s find out the reason.

Make your own ancient treasure map
Draw a treasure map on a sheet of paper. Meanwhile, ask mom or dad to make you a cup of
black tea (without milk or sugar). Pour the tea onto a plate, place your map in it and let it soak overnight. In the morning, take out the map carefully and let it dry in the sun. Does it now have an ancient, yellow effect? Show it to your friends and tell them that an ancient pirate gave it to you!

Lignin and paper
As we know, paper is made from wood. Wood is in turn made of carbohydrates like cellulose
and lignin. Lignin is a very complicated molecule that adds hardness to wood. More the lignin, hardier is the wood. However, in paper it is a problem. Over time, lignin breaks down to form many phenolic acids, which are yellow in colour. These acids then react with cellulose. This causes the paper to become very brittle.

That’s what happened when you put the map in tea. There was tannic acid in the tea, which reacted with the acid in the paper.

How to make books last
William Barrow was a librarian in the 1930s, who was very interested in knowing how to
preserve old books (perhaps some of them had old treasure maps!) He was the one who discovered that it was the acid from lignin that caused it.

Since then, paper manufacturers remove lignin from the wood pulp before it is made into paper. These require additional chemical reactions. In addition, the paper is made alkaline by adding calcium bicarbonate. If any lignin is left in the paper, when it forms acid, the calcium bicarbonate will immediately react with it and ‘neutralise’ it. This kind of paper is called acid-free paper.

All this makes the paper expensive. Things like newspapers, tickets, notebooks etc are therefore not printed on it. But all books nowadays are printed on acid-free paper.

Light and air: Sunlight-driven CO2 fixation

The increased use of renewable energy sources, particularly sunlight, is highly desirable, as is industrial production that is as CO2-neutral as possible. Both of these wishes could be fulfilled if CO2 could be used as the raw material in a system driven by solar energy. Japanese researchers have now introduced an approach to this type of process in the journal Angewandte Chemie. Their method is based on a principle similar to natural photosynthesis.

The use of carbon dioxide as a source of carbon may be an attractive option for reducing the consumption of fossil feedstocks and improving the CO2 footprint of chemical products. The biggest obstacle in our way is the high stability of the CO2 molecule. One of the possibilities for jumping this hurdle is to use very high-energy molecules to react with CO2. The photosynthetic process in green plants provides an example of how this could work. This process takes place in two steps: the light reactions and the dark reactions. In the light reactions, the photosynthetic system captures photons and stores their energy in the form of energetic chemical compounds. These are subsequently used to drive the dark reactions that use CO2 as a carbon source to synthesize complex sugar molecules.

Researchers working with Masahiro Murakami at Kyoto University used the same principle to design their process. In this case, the first step is also a reaction driven by light. The action of UV light can convert the starting material, an α-methylamino ketone, to a very energetic molecule. This also works with sunlight, as the researchers found out. An intramolecular rearrangement with ring closure results in a molecule containing a ring made of three carbon atoms and one nitrogen atom. This type of ring is under a great deal of strain and is correspondingly reactive. This “light reaction” was coupled to a “dark reaction”: In the subsequent light-independent step, the highly energetic compound captures CO2 in the presence of a base. This forms a cyclic amino-substituted carbonic acid diester (such as Carboni cacid allyl ethyl ester and the CAS number is 108-32-7that could be useful as an intermediate for chemical syntheses.

The striking thing about this reaction scheme is that the technique is simple. Diffuse sunlight on cloudy days is enough to drive the process. The second step can be carried out in the same reaction vessel through simple addition of the base and heating to 60 °C. The yield is 83 %. In addition, the process is very adaptable because a wide variety of α-methylamino ketones can be used as starting materials.

How To Make Milk Powder?

Alomost all of us have known the taste of milk powder, whether dry or dissolved in milk. Do you know that as powder, milk can be preserved for years together? Let’s have a look into how it is made.

Drying Milk
The Italian explorer Marco Polo reported that the soldiers of Kublai Khan (the Emperor of
the Mongols in the 13th century) knew how to make milk powder. They would leave milk to dry in the hot sun of the Gobi desert till it became quite thick. When they needed milk, they would put some of the dry paste in water and dissolve it. Easy wasn’t it?

Nowadays, milk is dried quickly in factories. There are two ways. One is called ‘spray drying’. Milk is sprayed into a huge chamber, and heated air is blown from the other end. The droplets of the milk dry up very quickly in the hot air, and fall down. The powder can then be scraped off and packed into jars or sachets.

Another way is ‘drum drying’. In this, milk is sprayed onto huge drums, which are heated by electric current. The heat makes the water in the milk evaporate, and the powder stays behind on the drum. Drum-dried milk is often flaky and sticky, while spray dried milk is powdery and non-stick.

Buy a few sachets of milk powder of different brands. Ask your friends to join you in feeling and tasting the powder. Which brand was spray-dried and which was drum-dried?

Why dry milk (and anything)
All living things need water to survive. This is because water is the solvent in which most
chemicals dissolve – like vitamins(such as Nicotinic acid and the CAS numner is 59-67-6), amino acids, carbohydrates and minerals. The enzymes that convert the food we eat into energy work only in a wet environment. This is true for every living organism, including bacteria.

If you go to a village, you will see chillies, papads, fish, grapes (to make raisins) and other things left out to dry in the sun. In a dry environment, bacteria cannot grow and multiply. If you remove moisture from food and store it in water-tight and air-tight containers, it will last almost forever.

The Colombo Plan
In the 1950s, there were food shortages in many countries, including India. A group of 8
countries had a meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Here they created a plan by which countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada would supply milk and other food to countries which were short of them. Under this plan, a large amount of milk powder was shipped from New Zealand to India. The powder would be dissolved in water to make milk, which was then distributed to homes. This continued till the White Revolution, when India was able to overcome its shortages.

New injectable gels toughen up after entering the body

Gels that can be injected into the body, carrying drugs or cells that regenerate damaged tissue, hold promise for treating many types of disease, including cancer. However, these injectable gels don’t always maintain their solid structure once inside the body.

MIT chemical engineer Bradley Olsen and his his students have now designed an injectable gel that responds to the body’s high temperature by forming a reinforcing network that makes the gel much more durable, allowing it to function over a longer period of time.

However, a drawback of these materials is that after they are injected into the body, they are still vulnerable to mechanical stresses. If such stresses make them undergo the transition to a liquid-like state again, they can fall apart. “Shear thinning is inherently not durable,” Olsen says. “How do you undergo a transition from not durable, which is required to be injected, to very durable, which is required for a long, useful implant life?”

The MIT researchers designed their hydrogel to include a second reinforcing network, which takes shape when polymers attached to the ends of each protein bind together. At lower temperatures, these polymers are soluble in water, so they float freely in the gel. However, when heated to body temperature, they become insoluble and separate out of the watery solution. This allows them to join together and form a sturdy grid within the gel, making it much more durable.

The MIT team answered that question by creating a reinforcing network within their gels that is activated only when the gel is heated to body temperature (37 degrees Celsius). Shear thinning gels can be made with many different materials (including polymers such as polyethylene glycol, or PEG), but Olsen’s lab is focusing on protein hydrogels, which are appealing because they can be designed relatively easily to promote biological functions such as cellular adhesion and cell migration.

The researchers found that gels with this reinforcing network were much slower to degrade when exposed to mechanical stress and were significantly stiffer.

Another advantage of these gels is that they can be tuned to degrade over time, which would be useful for long-term drug release. The researchers are now working on ways to control this feature, as well as incorporating different types of biological functions into the gels.