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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Do cats prefer sardines or sweets? Our newest video explains why cats, unlike humans and other mammals, are indifferent to sweet flavors. The video was filmed at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, an institute dedicated to research on taste and smell. Prior to becoming Monell's Director, Gary Beauchamp studied the sweet taste receptor genes of cats in the late 1970s. At the Philadelphia Zoo, he gave lions, tigers, cheetahs and housecats two different types of water-sugar water and regular water. The cats showed no preference to the sugar water, suggesting a physiological difference between other mammals, such as humans, monkeys, and dogs.
Watch the video to find out the cause of your cat's missing sweet tooth.
Produced by the American Chemical Society
Directed and animated by Elaine Seward
Valentine's Day is right around the corner. Whether you're spending Valentine's with a special someone or you're stuck celebrating "Singles Awareness Day," we put together a list of five fascinating chemical facts about why chocolate, in moderation, may be good for you.
The video explains how a bar of chocolate contains hundreds of compounds, many with beneficial properties. Among the video's "sweet" facts:
Chocolate may improve your mood, and not just because of its delicious flavor. Chocolate contains a number of chemicals that inhibit the breakdown of the neurotransmitter anandamide -- sometimes called "the molecule of bliss" -- which can block feelings of pain and depression.
According to an article from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the naturally occurring polyphenols in cocoa - the key ingredient in chocolate - boost levels of HDL, commonly known as the "good cholesterol.