French inquiry censures lab that promoted hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid

A probe instigated by the French health ministry has found ‘serious malfunctions’ in the laboratory of Didier Raoult, a microbiologist who rose to prominence after suggesting hydroxychloroquine could treat for Covid-19. Based on Raoult’s small March 2020 study, the then US President Donald Trump repeatedly endorsed hydroxychloroquine, a decades-old cheap malaria drug as a treatment […]

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Renaissance science – XLIII

The world has been full of sound since the Earth first acquired an atmosphere at least 3.8 billion years ago. Sound is the principle means with which humans communicate with each other. Hearing is one of the five senses with which humans perceive and explore the world in which they live. Sound in the form […]

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Profile: Sandeep Verma

Sandeep Verma belongs to the generation of chemists that came of age in a post-liberalised Indian economy. Verma, who heads one of India’s premier funding agencies, the Science and Engineering Research Board (Serb), says that the ascent of Indian science, in particular chemistry, has him excited to see what is next. ‘Most of our younger […]

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Cobalt nanoparticles behind alternative to lead-based Lindlar catalyst

Researchers have developed a lead- and palladium-free alternative for the Lindlar catalyst. The cobalt-based heterogenous catalyst proved to be efficient for catalysing the semi-hydrogenation of alkynes and exhibits high selectivity, mitigating some of the problems encountered when using the traditional Lindlar catalyst. ‘The Lindlar catalyst is a special catalyst which allows the selective hydrogenation of […]

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Explaining the mysterious purple gold at Spain’s Alhambra

Researchers in Spain have discovered the process through which gold decorations at the famous Alhambra Palace in Granada have developed mysterious purple patches. Gold is known for its stability – its relative chemical inertness in comparison to other metals is one of the main reasons it has been so sought after by humans. But interestingly, […]

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Electrolyser conjures hydrogen from thin air for green energy

A prototype electrolyser has harvested water from the air, split it and collected hydrogen for green energy. The device was powered by solar energy and can operate in dry air with just 4% humidity. ‘This is the first electrolyser that can produce high purity hydrogen directly from air,’ says Gang Kevin Li, a chemical engineer […]

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German firms raided over dual use chemicals sent to Russia

Several companies based in Germany are suspected of selling compounds to Russia that could be used to make chemical and biological weapons like mustard gas or Novichok. The firms reportedly didn’t have the required permits for the transactions, so German custom officials are now digging into the case. Fifty officials were on site last week […]

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Yeast engineered to ferment sugars into chemotherapy drug precursors

Yeast have been genetically engineered to produce precursors of a chemotherapy drug that’s usually derived from plants. The team then coupled the precursors using established semisynthesis methods to make vinblastine. The work shows how such microbial cell factories could boost the supply of vinblastine and thousands of other natural products, as well as produce a […]

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Warning that carbon capture not a silver bullet for climate change

A new report has cast doubt on the potential of carbon capture storage (CCS) to help the world transition to net zero. It says more CCS projects are underperforming than are successful because of issues with the technology and regulatory framework. The report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) studied 13 […]

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