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  • News in Brief

    Tiny bits of iron may explain why some icebergs are green

    Scientists may have finally figured out why some icebergs are green. Iron oxides could create the emerald hue.

    Icebergs often appear mostly white because light bounces off air bubbles trapped inside the ice. But pure ice — ice without air bubbles that often forms on a berg’s underside — appears blue because it absorbs longer light wavelengths (warm colors like red and orange) and...

    03/06/2019 - 11:00 Oceans, Chemistry, Ecology
  • Science Visualized

    Here’s how long the periodic table’s unstable elements last

    On the periodic table, most elements have at least one stable form. But others have only unstable forms, all of which decay by emitting radiation and transforming into different elements until becoming one that’s stable. The timescale of radioactive decay is known as an element’s half-life, the time it takes for a sample of an element to be reduced by half.

    Generally for the elements...

    03/01/2019 - 11:02 Chemistry, Physics
  • Feature

    Extreme elements push the boundaries of the periodic table

    The rare radioactive substance made its way from the United States to Russia on a commercial flight in June 2009. Customs officers balked at accepting the package, which was ensconced in lead shielding and emblazoned with bold-faced warnings and the ominous trefoil symbols for ionizing radiation. Back it went across the Atlantic.

    U.S. scientists enclosed additional paper work and the...

    02/27/2019 - 06:00 Chemistry, Physics
  • Editor's Note

    Scientists set sail for the elusive island of stability

    On March 6, 1869, Dmitrii Mendeleev’s periodic table was unveiled, and we’ve launched a yearlong celebration of the 150th anniversary of his iconic work. In this issue, we’re looking ahead to imagine the periodic table of the future, as scientists strive to create bizarre new elements. And we also set ourselves a science visualization challenge: charting the half-lives of all the...
    02/26/2019 - 06:15 Science & Society, Chemistry, Physics
  • News

    Why kids may be at risk from vinyl floors and fire-resistant couches

    WASHINGTON — Home decor like furniture and flooring may not be notorious polluters like gas-guzzlers, but these indoor consumer products can also be significant sources of potentially dangerous chemicals.

    Kids who live in homes with all vinyl flooring or living room couches that contain flame retardants have much higher concentrations of chemicals called semivolatile organic compounds in...

    02/21/2019 - 06:00 Chemistry, Health, Pollution
  • News

    Why some Georgia O’Keeffe paintings have ‘art acne’

    WASHINGTON — Like pubescent children, the oil paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe have been breaking out with “acne” as they age, and now scientists know why.

    Tiny blisters, which can cause paint to crack and flake off like dry skin, were first spotted forming on the artist’s paintings years ago. O’Keeffe, a key figure in the development of American modern art, herself had noticed these knobs...

    02/16/2019 - 09:00 Chemistry, Technology
  • News

    A new 3-D printed ‘sponge’ sops up excess chemo drugs

    Bringing the filtering abilities of a fuel cell into the blood vessels of living organisms, a new device could cut down on toxic effects of cancer treatment.

    At the heart of this approach — recently tested in pigs — is a tiny, cylindrical “sponge” created by 3-D printing. Wedged inside a vein near a tumor being treated with chemotherapy, the sponge could absorb excess drug before it...

    01/15/2019 - 09:00 Cancer, Chemistry, Technology
  • News in Brief

    Your phone could reveal your radiation exposure after a nuclear disaster

    In the event of a nuclear attack or accident, personal electronics could be repurposed as radiation detectors.

    A ceramic insulator found in many devices, such as cell phones and fitness trackers, gives off a glow under high heat that reveals its past nuclear radiation exposure, researchers report in the February Radiation Measurements. That insight may allow experts to gauge someone’s...

    01/14/2019 - 06:00 Chemistry, Science & Society
  • Feature

    150 years on, the periodic table has more stories than it has elements

    Recognize these rows and columns? You may remember a detail or two about this mighty table’s organization from a long-ago chemistry class. Elements are ordered according to their number of protons, or atomic number. Metals are mostly to the left and nonmetals to the right. The column at the far right holds the noble gases, named for their general unwillingness to interact with other elements...

    01/08/2019 - 11:29 Chemistry, Physics
  • Essay

    How the periodic table went from a sketch to an enduring masterpiece

    Every field of science has its favorite anniversary.

    For physics, it’s Newton’s Principia of 1687, the book that introduced the laws of motion and gravity. Biology celebrates Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859) along with his birthday (1809). Astronomy fans commemorate 1543, when Copernicus placed the sun at the center of the solar system.

    And for chemistry, no cause for...

    01/08/2019 - 11:29 Chemistry