How Does Thioglycolate Hair Remover Work?

Biology, Chemistry
Hair: men bemoan its loss and women fret over its appearance. For decades during the 20th Century, women were enamored by the so-called permanent wave. The most common process for assuring permanency of a hairstyle obtained at the beauty parlor involved a chemical process involving thioglycolate. See, Permanent Wave: Chem-mystery of Curl. By Extension... Although this process was used, not to remove hair, but to beautify it, by extension, a closely related process has been used to eliminate hair that grows¹ in undesired places. Notice this chemical reaction that occurs when thioglycolate is used to remove hair². 2 HOOC-CH₂-SH + R-S-S-R → HOOC-CH₂-S-S-CH₂-COOH + 2 R-SH The above reaction reads: two thioglycolic acid molecules plus one cystine (disulfide hair bond) produces two dithioglycolic acid molecules and two cysteine molecules. To…
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DNA: The Modular Staircase of Life

Biology, Chemistry
[caption id="attachment_24326" align="alignright" width="480"] Molecular model of a Portion of a DNA molecule. – Image by Skeeze[/caption] The most common inorganic (non-carbon) compounds have molecular weights no more than about 200 or 300. Organic compounds can run easily into the many hundreds and thousands. DNA by comparison possesses a molecular weight, depending on the variety, of billions, even trillions. Examining a typical model of the DNA molecule, it appears extremely complex. However, this is from a ‘trees versus the forest’ viewpoint. When viewed as a united structure, DNA assumes a basic form – that of a twisting staircase. DNA is the staircase of life. Molecular Weight and Molecules The atomic weight of an element is defined as the ratio of the mass of an atom of that element to 1/12…
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Mono- Di- and Polysaccharides: Starches Sugars Cellulose

Biology, Chemistry
[caption id="attachment_24172" align="alignright" width="480"] This Giant Sequoia stands tall thanks to Cellulose. – Image by Tripastute[/caption] Carbon appears to be unique in its immense chemical diversity. So much so, that an entire branch is devoted to its chemical behavior – organic chemistry. Yet, the name given to this branch of chemistry indicates something of more importance than its being just another branch among many. Organic chemistry began as the chemistry of living things, the chemistry of all things organic. There are literally millions of carbon compounds incorporated into organic chemistry. The group we will consider here is the saccharides. Some among these consist of multiple saccharide units joined together. Hence, they are termed polysaccharides. What is a Saccharide? The word “saccharide” is derived from the Latin sacchararum, “meaning full of…
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Organic Chemistry and Life: Has Vitalism Been Born Again?

Biology, Chemistry
[caption id="attachment_23607" align="alignright" width="480"] Pillars of Creation[/caption] The phrase ‘organic compound’ relates to the word organism, closely associated with life and life processes. Organic compounds largely consist of carbon atoms linked in chains or rings that contain hydrogen and frequently one or more other atoms called hetero atoms – notably oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorus. Inorganic compounds are everything else – for example, nickel chloride, ammonium nitrate, carbon dioxide, and phosphorus pentoxide. It is important to recognize that there are a relative handful of organic compounds that do not contain carbon chains or rings, but result from life processes, including for example, urea, NH2-CO-NH2.
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Have You Ever Seen Beautiful Gray-Green, Dipped-in-Red, Soldier Moss?

Biology, Plants
I rarely ever notice the kind of car a person is driving, or the clothing they are wearing. Yet from the first time I was exposed to a tiny lichen on a piece of rotting wood, I was enchanted by its beauty. It had short shafts of pale gray-green with tips of the brightest, purest red I've ever seen in nature. But then, I've often noticed the tiny things are often the most beautiful, if you look at them closely. Soldier Moss Soldier moss is also known as British soldier. The red tips are referred to as fruiting bodies. Although the comparison is not quite the same, the mushrooms we eat are just the fruiting body. The essential part of the fungus is called the mycelium. Actually, Soldier moss is…
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Chimera African Violets – What Are They? How Do I Cultivate Them?

Biology, Plants
[caption id="attachment_23293" align="alignright" width="480"] Pinwheel[/caption] In the 1950s, if an individual owned an African Violet, it was usually a small houseplant with fuzzy green leaves and blue or purple flowers. It wouldn't be long before violets came in nearly every color except the elusive yellow. And flowers were no longer necessarily singles. All sorts of combinations were introduced. Some flowers even had curly green edges. But even more striking developments were to come. Among these were the chimera violet. We ask: what is a chimera violet? where does it come from? how can I cultivate one? What Is a Chimera Violet? First, consider the word chimera. It is a complex word with various meanings. In mythology, a chimera is a beast constructed of parts from two or more different animals.…
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Give that Old African Violet a ‘Facelift’

Biology, Plants
[caption id="attachment_23247" align="alignright" width="480"] Image: Morguefile by Ronnieb[/caption] You've grown to appreciate African Violets. You started growing them about 10 years ago. Now you have several very beautiful varieties. Your first purchase produced single purple flowers. Now the plant has a long twisted stem and is not desirable to look at. But it has sentimental value. Your mom gave it to you just before she died. You wonder if anything can be done to save it? What Needs to Change The plant lost leaves over the years, producing a long, ugly, stem. Failure to rotate the plant on your windowsill caused the plant to lean so much it tips easily. The lower leaves have discolored, curled edges. You want to fix all of this. What can you do? The Long…
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Tree Burls and Burl Wood: So Ugly They’re Beautiful

Tree Burls and Burl Wood: So Ugly They’re Beautiful

Biology, The Arts
[caption id="attachment_21404" align="alignright" width="440"] Image: Evelyn Simak CCA-SA2.0 License.[/caption] About 24 years ago, my 4th grade daughter advised us the next day her school science fair project was due. No big deal, ordinarily, we had not been told there was even going to be a science fair! I have a technical background and I hated to think my daughter would appear to be a failure at such an event, so, scratching my head, I figured I'd better come up with something we could accomplish as a father-daughter team, and in a hurry. My Wile E. Coyote (Supergenius) Idea At the time, we were living in a small house in beautiful, forested acres. Our trees included hickory, oak, cucumber magnolia, black gum, linden, tulip poplar, black locust, Paulownia, and (yes!) other…
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How the Tear Ingredient Lysozyme Fights Bacteria

Biology, Chemistry
[caption id="attachment_19802" align="alignright" width="460"] 1,4-beta glycosidic bond[/caption] Human tears largely consist of water, sodium, and potassium electrolytes. However, these are not the only important substances found in tears. There are a number of complex organic substances essential in maintaining the eye. One ingredient is lysozyme, prominent among a group of chemicals which exhibit antibacterial behavior [see the PubChem reference for an image of lysozyme]. Lysozyme Modus Operandum The University of Colorado reference (cited) makes the following statement: "The enzyme lysozyme breaks down bacterial cell walls, which are made of a unique compound called peptidoglycan." Molecular Structure of the Contenders [caption id="attachment_19810" align="alignright" width="330"] cyclohexane chair conformer[/caption] The fifty-cent name for lysozyme is N-acetylmuramide glycanhydrolase. The suffix at the end of the name, -ase, indicates this compound is an enzyme. An…
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Eye Color and Genetic Inheritance: Dominant -vs.- Recessive

Biology, Genealogy
[caption id="attachment_18792" align="alignright" width="440"] Brown eyes, blue eyes.[/caption] Upon dying, a parent may leave his or her child a pecuniary inheritance. Yet, this is not the first one. Even during life, a parent provides his child with more than one genetic inheritance. One such inheritance involves eye color. Each parent contributes one eye color gene to his child. This means there are two different genes that determine the color of a child's eyes. But if the two genes represent different colors, what color will his eyes be? Observe, Note, Predict During the mid-1800s, an observant man, Gregor Mendel raised pea plants. He noted different plants produced peas with predictable variances. Using deductive reasoning, he uncovered the principle of dominant and recessive genes. After his death, his findings were applied not…
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