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Sunday, December 8, 2019
Single response mix can produce all 4 RNA bases

Single response mix can produce all 4 RNA bases

Simple chemicals can grow complex pretty quickly. There's a strong consensus that life on Earth got its start through RNA, a close chemical sibling of DNA. Over the last few decades, researchers have described how individual RNA bases can spontaneously polymerize, forming longer chains that could ultimately catalyze key chemical reactions, including building even longer…
Brett McGuire browses area for the chemistry of life

Brett McGuire browses area for the chemistry of life

In a different reality, space might smell like almonds. After all, scientists surveying the chemicals in the cosmos have found benzonitrile; just a bit of the compound would fill your nostrils with a bitter almond scent. But our cosmos is too vast. “Space smells like nothing,” says astrochemist Brett McGuire. “There’s not enough to get…
The trick to amazing conservation of a Dead Sea Scroll might be salt finish

The trick to amazing conservation of a Dead Sea Scroll might...

Enlarge / Partial view of the Dead Sea Temple Scroll, one of the longest biblical texts found since the 1940s. A team of MIT scientists studied a fragment of one of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls and found the parchment has an unusual coating of sulfate salts. This may be one reason the scrolls were…
A tiny chemical laboratory might one day test for harmful nerve representatives in the field

A tiny chemical laboratory might one day test for harmful nerve...

A mini version of lab equipment that identifies chemicals in suspect substances could someday help perform on-the-ground testing for chemical warfare agents.  Collecting samples of sarin, VX or other nerve agents and shipping them to a lab for testing can take weeks, says Robert Williams, a physical organic chemist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in…
See this paper doll do sit-ups thanks to brand-new sort of “synthetic muscle”

See this paper doll do sit-ups thanks to brand-new sort of...

A new twist on a special kind of polymer is what enables this paper doll to do calisthenics. A new twist on lightweight organic materials shows promise for artificial-muscle applications. Chinese scientists spiked a crystalline organic material with a polymer to make it more flexible. They reported their findings in a new paper in ACS…
There Ought to Be More Iron In Area. Why Can’t We See It?

There Ought to Be More Iron In Area. Why Can’t We...

Iron is one of the most abundant elements in the Universe, along with lighter elements like hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon. Out in interstellar space, there should be abundant quantities of iron in its gaseous form. So why, when astrophysicist look out into space, do they see so little of it? First of all, there’s a…
A Jarful of Titan Might Educate Us A Lot About Life There, and Right here On Earth

A Jarful of Titan Might Educate Us A Lot About Life...

Titan is a distant, exotic, and dangerous world. It’s frigid temperatures and hydrocarbon chemistry is like nothing else in the Solar System. Now that NASA is heading there, some researchers are getting a jump on the mission by recreating Titan’s chemistry in jars. In June NASA announced their Dragonfly mission to Titan. Dragonfly is a…
Lakes on Titan May Have Actually Unique Crystals Encrusted Around Their Shores

Lakes on Titan May Have Actually Unique Crystals Encrusted Around Their...

Titan is a mysterious, strange place for human eyes. It’s a frigid world, with seas of liquid hydrocarbons, and a structure made up of layers of water, different kinds of ice, and a core of hydrous silicates. It may even have cryovolcanoes. Adding to the odd nature of Saturn’s largest moon is the presence of…
Hubble Discovers Buckyballs in Area

Hubble Discovers Buckyballs in Area

Scientists working with the Hubble Space Telescope have found a very complex molecule out there in space. Called Buckyballs, after renowned thinker Buckminster Fuller, they are a molecular arrangement of 60 carbon atoms (C60) in the rough shape of a soccer ball. Though it’s not the first time these exotic molecules have been spotted in…
Earliest proof of marijuana smoking cigarettes discovered in ancient Chinese cemetery

Earliest proof of marijuana smoking cigarettes discovered in ancient Chinese cemetery

Enlarge / This is how the braziers were placed in the tomb alongside the deceased. Xinhua Wu The broken wooden braziers, unearthed from 2,500-year-old tombs in Western China, contained burned, blackened stones, and the interior of the wooden vessels also looked charred. To find out what had been burned in them, University of Chinese Academy…

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