Bye Bye Bloodsuckers!

Mosquito 2

I hate mosquitos. I really do. Every year, ten zillion mosquitos bite me, and my legs and arms are walking red bumps. I must have tasty blood, not that I would know. Last year, in biology, we learned about genetcially modified animals. One was a mosquito. As mosquitos are one of the most annoying bugs, as they spread dieases like malaria and leave itchy bumps, I figured it would be a nice end to my day to talk about how to stop mosquitos from ravaging my arms and legs.

It started with a man named Sabyasachi Sakar (say that five times fast) and his group of chemists. While studying zebrafish fed with moquitos that had water soluble carbon nanoparticles, the nanoparticles started to appear to slow the development of mosquitos. It was, in fact, these water-soluble carbon nanoparticles that causes death in mosquitos after they fail to develop. These nanoparticles are made through burning wood in an oxygen reduced enviroment. However, as they are new, experiments are still being conducted to see whether or not this would be the most beneficial solution to moquitos.  Anything that can cause at least one less bite a year sounds good to me!

So Ta Ta for now and hope to see your chemical reaction soon!

Signals Unseen

I recently came across an article about pheromones. A pheromone is a molecule or specific mix of molecules that makes other members of the same species change their behavior or development. This concept was fascinating to me, because it had nothing to do with sight. It was unconscious signals that we could not control. There were many examples throughout the entire article, which is linked down below, so I’ll only share my favorites.

The first example used is quite interesting, as it explains an experiment done in the 19th century. A French scientist named Jean-Henri Fabre put a female moth in a cage with gauze type walls. Later that night, many male moths of the same species came into the house via a window.  The scientist then discovered that the moths were only attracted if the moth was not contained in anything tightly sealed. This meant it was not sight, touch, or taste. It could have been smell or sound. However, moths make little noise, if any, and so it was concluded to be smell. In 1959, the male attractant that was used finally had a name: bombykol.

Another example I found intriguing was a squid fight. Male squids would touch another squid’s fertilized eggs and often start to fight another squid. When given eggs in a container as part of an experiment, the squids touched the material surrounding the eggs, and did not receive any subliminal chemical message. When a synthetic version of the hypothesized chemical was put on the outside of the material, the squids began fighting again. Scientists concluded that the squids sense something on the eggs that tells them there might be other females ready to mate.

Other examples mentioned were:

  • Ants: a scent that helps other ants determine whether there is food or not
  • Aphids: a scent to tell other aphids to fly away.
  • Orchids: Some orchids create a smell that entices hornets, despite their being no pollen to take for food. Hornets have a pheromone that alerts them if any bees are nearby. The orchid releases a chemical very similar to the bees, and the hornets attack the flowers, taking the pollen with it.

There were other examples, but those were the ones that got me thinking. Isn’t it crazy how something you cannot see or consciously observe can control your actions? I think I’ll leave you with that, and the link, of course! http://www.sciencenewsforkids.org/2013/01/secret-signals/

So Ta Ta for now and hope to see your chemical reaction soon!

TOXIC

I’ve had the song “Toxic” by Britney Spears stuck in my head all day, so I figured I might as well relate it to chemistry. While Spears doesn’t talk about the science kind of chemistry, the song is about being intoxicated by someone’s love, therefore the other form of chemistry. Some of the lyrics also hint at chemistry.
“Too high, can’t come down. Losing my head, spinning round and round.”
While I am kind of stretching this, she could be talking about how it feels like there’s no oxyegen to breathe in when the person is around. Another line mentions being addicted and that the man is, suprise, toxic!
What else is toxic? A lot of things. Some major addictions today are cigarettes, drugs and alcohol. An important reason for some of the addcitions is nicotine. Nicotine is lethal, and creates a chemical dependency. Nicotine is found in tobacco leaves and was first seperated in 1828 by two German scientists. The formula for nicotine is C14H10N2. Hydorgen, nitrogen, and carbon make up a dangerous substance, despite the many positive things that come from the same three elements. However, it’s this delicate arrangement of numbers and elements that makes it so hazardous. Nicotine is easily obtanied, as it is legal in pesticides and is in cigarettes. The main is reason is because it is based on plant chemistry, but, nevertheless, nicotine is here to stay.
I have never had a cigarette or tobacco, and I don’t plan on trying it at all. Even though I may know the dangers, others may not know the reasons behind that. It is important to know why we shouldn’t do things, because it gives us a better reason to say “no”. Nicotine is perilous to your health, and, if you consume large amounts of nicotine, don’t you know that you’re toxic?
So Ta Ta for now and hope to see your chemical reaction soon!

What is Chemistry? And other stuff you really didn’t need to know about chemistry

I was searching for a new post, as I am required to post bi-weekly, and I realized that I didn’t know the official definition of chemistry! It turns out that there are two definitions, both of which I was aware. One is about rapport and a connection between others, and the other, what I am truly here for, the science one. The official definition is: the branch of science that deals with the identification of the substances of which matter is composed; the investigation of their properties and the ways in which they interact, combine, and change; and the use of these processes to form new substances. In simplier terms, where people learn what stuff makes up other, bigger  stuff. Now that that’s clear, what to write about? I searched chemistry, and got articles like, “What to do if you’re Failing Chemistry”, and “101 Chemistry.com”. These things weren’t exactly what I was looking for. So I searched some more. Finally, I found it! The subject of today’s post. What are little known facts people don’t know about chemistry? Or, more specifically, what are some little known facts about things having to do with chemistry?

1. The periodic table was invented by Dmitry Mendeleyev, a professor from the University of St. Petersburg in 1869.

2. Chemical weapons are very hard to ban, due to the ingredients for it. One thing is used to make blue jeans, but is also used for mustard gas, another is in bug spray. Outlawing some of these gases is hard, because it would greatly affect the manufacturing industry.

3. You might be eating a toxic food as you are reading this. Yup, because artificial dyes are commonly used in many snacks and sugary foods. Some dyes originate from chemicals from petroleum. You know, the stuff in gas, asphalt, and tar?

This is just the beginning of all the other wacky stuff I’ve learned. It is pretty interesting, especially number two, what with Syria and all. Number one was just something I didn’t know, and maybe you didn’t either. Number three, well, that one kind of scared me and thought that maybe you should know this. I’d add some more, but I have to finish some other homework! So Ta Ta for now and hope to see your chemical reaction soon!