Stories tagged molecules

Water proves to be the best solvent for nanomachines
Water proves to be the best solvent for nanomachinesCourtesy Welome Images
Researchers from the University of Amsterdam have found that nanomachines work more efficiently when water is added as a "lubricant". Nanomachines are structures just one molecule in size (a few dozen atoms or so) that do work. When researchers added a small amount of water to the solvent that surrounded the nanomachines, the machines moved much faster.

Discovering how to optimize these tiny machines is important for the development of things like molecular computers and surfaces that can change properties.

"Apparently melted" sugar
"Apparently melted" sugarCourtesy Delphine Ménard

Just because everyone knows it's true, doesn't make it so. For centuries, candy makers have wrung their hands over the vagaries of sugar. See, sugar doesn't always melt at the same temperature. Turns out, that's because it's not really melting. It's decomposing.

Check out the article
for more information.

"We saw different results depending on how quickly we heated the sucrose. That led us to believe that molecules were beginning to break down as part of a kinetic process," said Shelly J. Schmidt, a University of Illinois professor of food chemistry.

Schmidt said a true or thermodynamic melting material, which melts at a consistent, repeatable temperature, retains its chemical identity when transitioning from the solid to the liquid state. She and Lee used high-performance liquid chromatography to see if sucrose was sucrose both before and after "melting." It wasn't.

"As soon as we detected melting, decomposition components of sucrose started showing up," she said.

To distinguish "melting" caused by decomposition from thermodynamic melting, the researchers have coined a new name—"apparent melting." Schmidt and her colleagues have shown that glucose and fructose are also apparent melting materials."

You know what's cool? Animation. And folks with the same skills used to bring you Red Dead Redemption and Toy Story 3 are also hard at work creating scientific visualizations that show the machinery of life.
Jul
29
2010

Not this kind of Heavy Metal: This kind of Heavy Metal is not Poison. Poison is an American Glam Metal band led by Bret Michaels.
Not this kind of Heavy Metal: This kind of Heavy Metal is not Poison. Poison is an American Glam Metal band led by Bret Michaels.Courtesy timparkinson

I haven't been feeling well lately, so I checked out heavy metal poisoning. Like you wouldn't do the same.

THIS kind of Heavy Metal: This is the kind of Heavy Metal I'm talking about. The kind that people wear hazmat suits to approach. This stuff is TOXIC. (Which is also a good band name...probably would be a heavy metal band...Wait, stop trying to confuse me!)
THIS kind of Heavy Metal: This is the kind of Heavy Metal I'm talking about. The kind that people wear hazmat suits to approach. This stuff is TOXIC. (Which is also a good band name...probably would be a heavy metal band...Wait, stop trying to confuse me!)Courtesy US Army Corps of Engineers

Turns out I've got the symptoms; headache and a bunch of other vague stuff.

But never fear...Science (and Nanotechnology) is here!

Researchers in Switzerland have figured out a way to use tiny nano-size magnets to attract and remove undesirable substances from blood, like heavy metals and overdosed steroids. Best part is that the process takes only minutes.

Nanomagnets remove toxins from blood: This photo should help.
Nanomagnets remove toxins from blood: This photo should help.Courtesy Functional Materials Laboratory, ETH Zurich

Blood goes in. Add the nanomagnets. Nanomagnets attract the "bad stuff" using linker molecules (works like it sounds - molecules that link things - in this case, they link nanomagnets to specific toxins or pathogens). Use a bigger magnet to collect all the nanomagnets with yucky stuff attached.

And VOILA! Clean blood.

What do you know, just reading about nanomagnets made my headache clear up. Go Science!

Learn more here...http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=17353.php

Sep
18
2008

A brown recluse: What do you suppose it's thinking about? I think I know.
A brown recluse: What do you suppose it's thinking about? I think I know.Courtesy Mean and Pinchy
You know what we love? Genitals. And I think you know which brand I’m talking about: the funny kind. And we just can’t get them out of our minds!

Take, for instance, some new research on spider venom. In addition to its long-established killing stuff properties, it turns out that some spider venom contains compounds that could aide the development of treatments for health issues ranging from arthritis to erectile dysfunction.

Whoa! Did I just type what I think I typed? “Erectile”? “Erectile dysfunction”? Whoa ho ho ho! Ha ha ha! Erectile dysfunction! That means that, you know, the elevator isn’t reaching the top floor! That, like, junk isn’t… Ha ha! Man, I love spiders! They are hilarious! Let’s see where else this research into comedy gold will take us.

It seems that some scientists at Cornell University have developed a new way of analyzing the molecular makeup of spider venom. Using “nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy,” the scientists were able to obtain detailed information on the molecular composition of spider venom, and, especially exciting, found entirely new molecules that had been overlooked in previous analysis of venom. The venom of the brown recluse spider, in particular, yielded some remarkable compounds.

“Remarkable compounds”? What is this? Get back to the erectile dysfunction! What happened to that stuff?

Hiding behind some larger molecules, the brown recluse venom was found to have some very small and interesting molecules called “sulfated nucleosides.” These molecules are quite similar to RNA, a basic component of our genetic material. Studying the sulfated nucleosides could lead to a better understanding of how brown recluse venom works.

Works at what? Curing impotence? Something like that? Gosh, it actually seems like this research was mostly about a new method of chemical analysis. But remember the part about, you know, wieners? Ah ha ha! Good stuff. Love it! In fact, the headline of any article about this research should focus on that incidental piece of information.

You’re welcome, scientists. We weren’t interested in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, so we changed the focus a little. Now you’ve given us what we want. (Genitals.)

Some microbes are resistant to antibiotics. Researchers in England have developed a way to change the molecular structure of antibiotics to make them more effective against these “superbugs.”