Water microdroplet chemistry enables catalyst-free Diels–Alder reaction

An unusual ‘quasi-benzyne’ radical anion generated from water microdroplets could represent a new substrate class in catalyst-free Diels–Alder reactions. The easy formation of this versatile intermediate and other similar species could provide an alternative strategy for green synthesis of high-value chemicals. Water microdroplets are opening up exciting new possibilities for organic chemists. They exhibit a […]

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Little things that made a big impact.

It is quite common that people get asked what they think is the most import development in technology or the most significant technological invention in human history. Apart from the ubiquitous wheel, which is almost certainly the most common answer, unless they are historians, they will almost always name something comparatively modern and usually big […]

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PFAS levels in the environment have been significantly underestimated

Current monitoring practices are likely to be underestimating the levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the environment. That’s the conclusion of a new study that also found more work was needed to develop analytical techniques to quantify PFAS in the environment, as well as their impact on people and ecosystems. The researchers assessed […]

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Origins of the astrolabe

In a recent excellent video on Hypatia – Myths and History, Tim O’Neill  correctly pointed out that the claim that Hypatia created the astrolabe was rubbish, going on to claim that it had existed for at least five centuries before she lived. Tim’s second claim is in fact wrong but is just one of many commons claims about the […]

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Microscopy structures reveal mechanism behind bitter taste

Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structures of a human taste receptor have revealed new information about the mechanisms that enable us to perceive bitter flavours. Our ability to taste bitter flavours is the result of complex interactions between over 1000 compounds and a suite of 26 receptors, called type-2 taste receptors (TAS2Rs). However, understanding of these interactions […]

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Rail company will pay $600 million to settle East Palestine lawsuits

Norfolk Southern, the operator of the cargo train that derailed in the Ohio town of East Palestine in February 2023, has reached a $600 million (£479 million) settlement in principle to resolve a class-action lawsuit related to the incident. Tons of hazardous chemicals spilled during the derailment, the long-term health and environmental impacts of which […]

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Algorithm designs proteins from scratch that can bind drugs and small molecules

A new algorithm based on physical principles can design proteins that bind cancer drugs to potentially head off an overdose or allergic reaction. The researchers believe that the algorithm could potentially be more effective than deep learning approaches for designing proteins with unfamiliar requirements. This could make it useful for producing antidotes or delivery vehicles […]

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US finally gets nationwide regulation of PFAS in drinking water

The US’s first national and enforceable drinking water standards for six per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were announced by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday. The long-awaited final rule sets legally imposed limits for these chemicals. Although environmental and health organisations celebrated the new regulations, the chemical industry and water utilities have serious concerns. […]

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Could mechanochemistry have saved Abbott Laboratories $250 million?

The disappearing polymorph of HIV drug ritonavir can now be recovered from its more stable nuisance form by a 15-minute ball milling procedure. Careful control of the milling conditions enabled researchers to manipulate the size and shape of ritonavir crystals to drive formation of the desired polymorph with complete selectivity. The method appears to solve […]

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