Fermentation Adds Pleasure to Our Diet

Chemistry, Food
[caption id="attachment_23185" align="alignright" width="480"] Sausages, mashed potatoes, and sauerkraut.[/caption] When most people think of fermentation, they think of fermenting fruits rich in sugar, or of potatoes or other starches. In most cases, they are thinking of is alcohol, for drinking! But fermentation is not limited alcoholic beverages. For instance, did you know sauerkraut is fermented cabbage? Or that both coffee and chocolate are made using fermentation? Let's "Define" Fermentation When yeast ferments sugar, sugar breaks apart into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas. When yeast is used to bake bread, both the alcohol and the gas cause the bread to rise. But fermentation to produce alcoholic beverages, involves no cooking. The alcohol must "disposed of" in a different way! Now yeast is a budding, single-cell fungus. So fungus can be used…
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The Tragic Case of the Los Angeles Wannabe Chemist

Chemistry, Technology
I wrote how I was, in younger years, badly gassed by the carcinogenic, heavy-metal compound chromyl chloride during a home chemistry experiment. Another article I wrote was about how I mistakenly produced, not an organic ester as intended, but a powerful tear gas. In both cases, I aptly demonstrated my lack of knowledge as a wannabe chemist. My "unfortunate" experiments did not prove tragic. Another fellow was not so fortunate... In fact, his experiment cost him – and sixteen others – their lives. Not to mention, those badly injured, and the many surrounding buildings it destroyed. Introducing Wannabe Chemist Bobby Magee Does the name remind you of the Janis Joplin song Me and Bobby Magee? Well our Bobby, or more precisely, Robert M. Magee was the son of James W.…
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Cyclopentadecane the Simplest Catenane Interlocking Ring Structure?

Chemistry, Logic
Notice the links in a gold chain, how they are not connected, but are a series of interlocked rings. There is a word that describes such an unconnected chain: concatenate. From this word, we can gain an understanding of what chemists call a catenane. Now we are probably already familiar with typical multi-ring compounds, such as naphthalene. But naphthalene consists of two hexagonal rings sharing two carbon atoms, and joined together by them. Hence, naphthalene is not a 12-carbon structure, but a 10-carbon structure, C₁₀H₈. Notice the simple illustration of one ring linking to another. This looks simple to achieve, but it is not so easy! We will not discuss the chemistry involved in preparing a catenane, but we will discuss some of the issues. Why Not Simple Ring Closure?…
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Beets for Baby? If So, You Might Want to Read This

Chemistry, Food
When I was a young child, my mom fed me a variety of foods. And that is great! Kids today are asked what they would like to eat, rather than being told this is what we are eating tonight... Well, I was served, among whatever else Mom gave me, beets. Delicious beets. Beets are tender, sweet, and if served as they were served to me, buttery and salty. A really marvelous food. Well, the next day, Mom called the Doctor in a panic... "Doctor," she cried, "my baby has blood in his stool!" The Doctor's Response "What did he eat yesterday?" Well, you get the point. I'd been given beets to eat. So if you choose to feed your little child beets, just remember the next day, the child is…
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Bakelite: The Chemistry of Art Deco

Chemistry, The Arts
[caption id="attachment_22984" align="alignright" width="480"] 1935 Bugatti[/caption] Styles come, styles go. Art Nouveau came. Art Nouveau went. Next came Art Deco. Nouveau was stylish to the point of ostentation. Deco was simpler, more modern. It reflected a change in Society's perspective. Art Deco surfaced just before the start of the Great War, later renamed World War I. The fires of Art Deco were fanned by the end of the War, and rolled in at full steam with the Roaring Twenties and the age of the Flapper! Art Deco - a Brief Description Art deco was, as its name hints, of French origin. It started before the Great War (WWI) did, approximately the first to second decade of the 20th Century. Art Deco combines geometric designs with bright colors and a spirit…
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Pressure Cookers Cook Hotter and Quicker – The Ideal Gas Law

Chemistry, Food
[caption id="attachment_22958" align="alignright" width="480"] Modern 8.5 quart steel pressure cooker[/caption] Your time is limited. Besides, you are concerned about tenderness and nutrition. So you are in the market for a pressure cooker. But you are just a bit curious about how and why they work. And you are not certain which one to buy. Meats and Vegetables Water ordinarily boils at 212°Fahrenheit (100°Celsius). So food cooked in an open saucepan¹, whether by boiling or steaming, cooks at approximately that temperature. Using a Pressure Cooker In an open saucepan, water boils at atmospheric pressure, something over 14 pounds per square inch. However, when water boils in a pressure cooker, steam pressure is considerably higher. Now steam is essentially gaseous water. This brings to mind our high-school days and the dreaded Ideal…
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What is Cream of Tartar? Why is It Used in Food?

Chemistry, Food
We know the tiny white cubes of salt we shake over our food is sodium chloride. We know the sugar we spoon into our cereal (assuming that's not already been done for us) is sucrose. But what in the world is cream of tartar, and how why to we put that in our food? Chemical Structure Cream of tartar is a by-product. What is it a by-product of? The fermentation of wine. It often settles out in the cask and sometimes in the bottle. Cream of tartar's common technical name is potassium bitartrate. Sometimes it is called potassium acid tartrate since only one of its two available acid groups is neutralized by potassium (red circle), leaving the other acid group unreacted (blue circle). See the diagram. Its acid group, is…
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Beryllium Metal: the Seldom-Discussed, Tiny Atom of Curious Properties

Chemistry, Health
[caption id="attachment_22220" align="alignright" width="440"] Emerald cabochon scarab ring[/caption] The periodic table of the elements begins with the tiniest atom, hydrogen. From there we proceed through helium, lithium, beryllium, boron, and carbon. Let's very briefly touch bases on all of these except beryllium metal. The Other Elements Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe. It is the fuel of the stars. Compounded with oxygen, it forms water, essential to life. Helium is abundant in space as the fusion product of hydrogen. It is lighter than air, as is obvious when it fills our children's balloons. It is chemically essentially non-reactive, hence harmless. As a joke, we may even inhale a little helium and speak out in a high-pitched, 'chipmunk-like' voice. The third atom, lithium, is the smallest metal. It…
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Why Do Certain Artificial Flavors Taste Better Than Others?

Chemistry, Food
Whether it is candy, a cake, or ice cream, I've heard statements of preference given for one particular fruit flavor over another. What is it that turns some people on to certain fruits, while turning them off to others? How is it certain artificial flavors taste better than others? The People Factor Of course, there is personal preference. But if a large enough group of people who express their taste preferences is polled, and an overwhelming number of them agree they like or dislike a specific flavor, isn't it fair to suggest it is not just a matter of personal preference? Another Factor Then, too, what if those polled say they dislike a particular artificial flavor, but they enjoy its natural flavor counterpart? Why is that? The no-brainer answer must…
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The Chemical Bond – What Model Can We Choose to Represent It?

The Chemical Bond – What Model Can We Choose to Represent It?

Chemistry, Physics
Atoms and molecules are small indeed. Until recently, catching even a glimpse an atom was impossible. It still is impossible to see a chemical bond. Despite that, we know quite a few chemical reactions and can predict how many more will turn out. But we could know ever so much more about the scientific world of the very small if we had a very close bond model. We will discuss three bond models that have been used in the past, and to some extent still are used. 1. The rigid model. 2. The spring model. 3. The force / charge model. See the images associated with article. Each depicts one of the models discussed below. The Rigid Model One can depict a diatomic molecule by joining two balls with a…
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