Deviation study suggests numerous elemental analyses are too good to be true

Elemental analysis is an important technique for determining the composition and purity of compounds, but a new study has raised concerns that the data is prone to manipulation. Christian Kowol and colleagues from the University of Vienna, Austria, analysed six commercially available high purity compounds, using two different elemental analysis instruments and three additional independent […]

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Criminal case against Chinese-born top MIT scientist collapses

The US government’s case against Gang Chen, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) nanoengineering laboratory, who was arrested a year ago for not reporting ties to and funding from the Chinese government, has collapsed. On 20 January, federal prosecutors dropped charges against Chen because his alleged omissions in the context of the grant […]

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Dilanthanide complexes smash record for strongest single-molecule magnet

Newly discovered dilanthanide complexes are the strongest single-molecule magnets ever made. It’s the first time that chemists have isolated complexes featuring lanthanide–lanthanide bonds, and could offer a way to make powerful new permanent magnets. Large overlapping valence orbitals are usually a requirement for metal–metal bonding – as such, the lanthanide elements’ relatively small atomic radii […]

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Rising ozone pollution threatens east Asia’s cereal crops

Ozone pollution is damaging wheat, rice and maize crops across China, South Korea and Japan to the tune of $63 billion (£46 billion) each year. The study by an international team of researchers highlights the need to mitigate increasing ground-level ozone across east Asia to safeguard food production in one of the largest bread baskets […]

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Interim report on UK research bureaucracy provides a taste of what’s to come

Cutting the red tape involved in UK research is going to require cultural change and new principles, according to Adam Tickell, vice-chancellor of the University of Birmingham, who is leading a review into research bureaucracy. However, detailed recommendations won’t come out until later this year when the review reports in full. Tickell’s interim report reflects […]

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The black sheep of the Provence-Paris group

I continue my sketches of the seventeenth century group pf mathematicians and astronomers associated with Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc (1580-1637) in Provence and Marin Mersenne (1588–1648) in Paris with Jean-Baptiste Morin (1583–1656), who was born in Villefranche-sur-Saône in the east of France. Jean-Baptiste Morin Source: Wikimedia Commons He seems to have come from an affluent family and at the age […]

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Engineered enzyme speeds up sedate organic reaction

An engineered enzyme has been created to carry out a notoriously slow organic reaction, and it far exceeds the performance of many conventional catalysts. The development applies biochemical techniques to the Morita–Baylis–Hillman (MBH) reaction, which is used to form a carbon–carbon bond between an alkene and carbon electrophile, such as an aldehyde, thereby creating products […]

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Engineered enzyme breaks speed records in sedate organic reaction

An engineered enzyme has been created to carry out a notoriously slow organic reaction, and it far outperforms all other known catalysts for this transformation. The development applies biochemical techniques to the Morita–Baylis–Hillman (MBH) reaction, which is typically used to form a carbon–carbon bond between an alkene and carbon electrophile, such as an aldehyde, thereby […]

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Evolved enzymes carry out new-to-nature radical chemistry

P450 enzymes have been trained to carry out unnatural asymmetric radical cyclisation reactions. By showing that enzymes can direct the stereochemistry of a free-radical process, the findings offer a potential solution to what the researchers behind the work describe as a ‘notoriously difficult’ challenge. The US team from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and […]

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