Tag Archives | Chemistry

The Forgotten Discoveries Of Alchemy

alchemyIs alchemy not the sham science we have been led to believe it is? The Smithsonian on how alchemists’ breakthroughs were pillaged by the forefathers of modern science:

In the 1980s, some revisionist scholars began arguing that alchemists actually made significant contributions to the development of science.

Historians of science began deciphering alchemical texts—which wasn’t easy. The alchemists, obsessed with secrecy, deliberately described their experiments in metaphorical terms laden with obscure references to mythology and history. For instance, text that describes a “cold dragon” who “creeps in and out of the caves” was code for saltpeter (potassium nitrate).

Growing evidence that the alchemists seem to have performed legitimate experiments, manipulated and analyzed the material world in interesting ways and reported genuine results. And many of the great names in the canon of modern science took note.

Robert Boyle, one of the 17th-century founders of modern chemistry, “basically pillaged” the work of the German physician and alchemist Daniel Sennert, says Newman.

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The Trust Molecule

Paul J. Zak, author of The Moral Molecule: The Source of Love and Prosperity, asks "Could a single molecule—one chemical substance—lie at the very center of our moral lives?" in the Wall Street Journal:
Research that I have done over the past decade suggests that a chemical messenger called oxytocin accounts for why some people give freely of themselves and others are coldhearted louts, why some people cheat and steal and others you can trust with your life, why some husbands are more faithful than others, and why women tend to be nicer and more generous than men. In our blood and in the brain, oxytocin appears to be the chemical elixir that creates bonds of trust not just in our intimate relationships but also in our business dealings, in politics and in society at large. Known primarily as a female reproductive hormone, oxytocin controls contractions during labor...
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Synthetic Marijuana Widely Used at U.S. Naval Academy…

U.S. Naval AcademyDaniel de Vise reports in the Washington Post:
A synthetic form of marijuana is widely used at the U.S. Naval Academy because it cannot be detected in routine drug tests, according to several former midshipmen who have been removed from campus for using or possessing the substance. Since its introduction at the academy last year, synthetic marijuana has become popular among rank-and-file midshipmen and on the football and wrestling teams, the former midshipmen said. Some isolated corners of the historic Annapolis campus, they said, have become well-known gathering spots for smoking it. Synthetic marijuana is an herbal potpourri sprayed with chemicals that, when smoked, produces mood-altering effects. It is illegal in at least 12 states, although not in Maryland, and is prohibited in the U.S. military, including at its service academies.
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Chemists Stay One Step Ahead Of War On Some Drugs

Mephedrone

Mephedrone

Cat and mouse plays out in the war on some drugs, chemistry set edition. Jeanne Whalen reports for the Wall Street Journal:

ANTWERP, Belgium—When the housing market crashed in 2008, David Llewellyn’s construction business went with it. Casting around for a new gig, he decided to commercialize something he’d long done as a hobby: making drugs.

But the 49-year-old Scotsman didn’t go into the illegal drug trade. Instead, he entered the so-called “legal high” business—a burgeoning industry producing new psychoactive powders and pills that are marketed as “not for human consumption.”

Mr. Llewellyn, a self-described former crack addict, started out making mephedrone, a stimulant also known as Meow Meow that was already popular with the European clubbing set. Once governments began banning it earlier this year, Mr. Llewellyn and a chemistry-savvy partner started selling something they dubbed Nopaine—a stimulant they concocted by tweaking the molecular structure of the attention-deficit drug Ritalin.

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British Intelligence Used “Bodily Fluids” as Invisible Ink

James BondIn case you missed this one, brings a whole new light to “Bond, James Bond” … Note the name of the person of charge of this operation in the article below. Via the Telegraph:

A diary entry belonging to a senior member of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) has revealed that during the First World War it was discovered that the bodily fluid could act as an effective invisible ink.

In June 1915, Walter Kirke, deputy head of military intelligence at GHQ France, wrote in his diary that Mansfield Cumming, the first chief (or C) of the SIS was “making enquiries for invisible inks at the London University”.

In October he noted that he “heard from C that the best invisible ink is semen”, which did not react to the main methods of detection. Furthermore it had the advantage of being readily available.

A member of staff close to “C”, Frank Stagg, said that he would never forget his bosses’ delight when the Deputy Chief Censor said one day that one of his staff had found out that “semen would not react to iodine vapour”.

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