The Colorful Chemistry of Lobster Shells

 
August is Maine Lobster Month, signaling prime lobster season in the Northeast. To celebrate, we investigated the chemistry behind these crustaceans' many colored shells to find out why lobsters -- whether they are brown, blue or even two-toned -- turn bright red when you cook them.
 
In the video, we visit Boston's New England Aquarium, where we talked to Dr. Michael Tlusty, the Aquarium's Director of Research. His lab grows different colored lobsters in an effort to understand shell disease, which weakens lobsters' shells. Between 2010 and 2012, the prevalence of lobster shell disease increased fivefold. While Maine lobsters are still largely unaffected, researchers like Tlusty are working hard to get to the bottom of the disease before it spreads further.
 


 

Electrifying Wastewater - Using Microbial Fuel Cells to Generate Electricity

 
 
When we think about fuel for power plants, oil, coal and natural gas typically comes to mind. Now, try adding wastewater to that mix. In this video, Professor Bruce E Logan from Pennsylvania State University shows us a microbial fuel cell, a device that can extract the energy from wastewater and turn it into electricity.
 
The ability to use bacteria to generate electricity from wastewater has been known since the 1910s. However, interest in the microbial fuel cell only picked up in the 1960s, and today, many research groups worldwide are working on making microbial fuel cells practical for a number of applications like generating electricity and desalinating seawater.
 
To see some microbial fuel cells constructed from plastic bottles and Ziploc containers by middle and high school students, or to learn how to make your own, visit Professor Logan's website here
 
Follow us on Twitter: @BytesizeScience
 
 


 

The chemistry of the corpse flower's stink - Bytesize Science

What's eight feet tall, has a creepy nickname and can be smelled from miles away? It's the rare titan arum plant, aka the corpse flower or Amorphophallus titanum, which just bloomed in the United States Botanic Gardens in Washington, DC. The plant has an unpredictable blooming cycle that lasts years, and the corpse-like odor it emits attracts pollenating bugs like flies and dung beetles. In this video, the Botanic Garden's public science educator Todd Brethauer explains the chemistry behind this legendary plant's potent stink.


 

Fast Caramelized Onions + The #EverydayChem Video contest

Matthew Hartings, assistant professor of chemistry at American University, teaches a class on the chemistry of cooking. In this video, he gives us a tip on how to get tasty caramelized onions super fast. 

Do you have an chemistry tip? Or maybe you can explain the chemistry behind the stuff in our everyday lives? Then be a chem ambassador and send us a video for the ACS' Everyday Chemistry contest! Get all the details here: http://cenm.ag/everydaychem.
 
 

Inside the Mind of an Alchemist - Featuring Larry Principe

The world of alchemy is shrouded in mystery. Alchemists tirelessly sought the recipe for the Philosophers' Stone - a substance that could turn any base metal into pure gold. The Philosophers' Stone would give its user untold wealth and power, so alchemists were known to operate under total secrecy. They worked in codes and symbols - to reserve their great knowledge for only those who were deemed deserving. Instead of the chemical formulas used today, alchemists created elaborate, fantastic illustrations of dragons, warriors, and monsters to represent the chemical experiments they carried out.
 
Centuries passed, and many historical alchemical texts and images remain undeciphered. Luckily for the history of science, we have brilliant minds like Larry Principe of Johns Hopkins University.
 
In our latest video, we take a look at Larry's work: digging deep into ancient manuscripts and texts, trying to find clues and cues as to what it was that alchemists really were up to. In addition to an enormous book collection in his office, Larry has a lab where he performs ancient alchemical experiments, helping to set the record straight on the history and development of alchemy. Is he a historian of alchemy or a get-rich-quick schemer in search of the legendary Philosophers' stone? You decide.
 


 

Why does asparagus make your pee smell funny? - Bytesize Science

 
Asparagus is known for its great flavor, but also for its ability to make pee smell... different. In this video, biochemist and author Shirley Corriher explains the science behind this funky phenomenon. Shirley is the author of CookWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking. She explains that enzymes in our noses allow us to smell the scent of asparagus pee. It turns that not everybody can perceive this funny odor -- check out the video to get the whole story.
 
 
Produced by the American Chemical Society
Directed, narrated and animated by Elaine Seward
 


 

How Does Toothpaste Make Orange Juice Taste Bad?

 

 
In our latest episode, we take on a common breakfast disturbance - the foul taste of orange juice after you brush your teeth. Toothpaste is loaded with a cornucopia of chemicals that add flavors, body, texture, and most importantly, the ability to clean your teeth. One compound in particular, a detergent known as sodium lauryl sulfate is responsible for the suds that you produce when brushing. As it turns out, this compound has an interesting effect on your mouths taste receptors. Watch the video to find out exactly how SLS affects your sense of taste, and be prepared to amaze your friends at breakfast when you drop chemical facts on why this bitter combo leads to such a puckered up, gross experience.
 
Produced by the American Chemical Society
Directed and animated by Kirk Zamieroski
 

ChemMatters: How NASA keeps tabs on air pollution from space

What flies around the world 14 times a day and can detect global air pollution levels from space? It's NASA's Aura satellite, whose mission is to understand the changing chemistry of the Earth's atmosphere. This remarkable satellite can measure air quality across the entire planet in just 24 hours. 

Find out more about Aura, how smog is formed, the future of Earth's ozone hole and much more in our latest episode of ChemMatters.

Produced by the American Chemical Society with support from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. 

Alternate download links (right-click to save): MP4 or AVI

 
 

The Chemistry of Egg Dyeing

 
With millions of eggs about to have their annual encounter with red, green, blue and other dyes this holiday weekend, our newest video helps uncover the chemistry behind this "egg-cellent" tradition. 
 
The video features Diane Bunce, Ph.D., professor of chemistry at Catholic University of America. Bunce explains, for instance, why vinegar is so important for eggshell to take up dye. Eggshells consist of calcium carbonate, the same chemical that makes up marble chips. But try to dye a white marble chip. Nope -- won't work! So what is it that makes eggshells dye-friendly? The video explains that egg shells have a "protein cuticle," which reacts with vinegar- based dyes in a way that allows dye to bond to the exterior of the egg. Find out more in the video.
 


 

The Chemistry of Alcohol and Hangovers

Saint Patrick's day is this Sunday, and there are many ways to celebrate like Irish soda bread at breakfast or corned beef and cabbage for dinner. For those celebrating St. Patrick's Day with green beer, moderation is key. Alcohol has several negative effects on your body -- many of which can amount to a miserable morning after. Find out the science behind those brutal hangovers and alcohol's other effects on the body in our latest video, and maybe we can inspire some caution in your celebration this year.
 


 


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