Bean Counting 101 (Balancing Chemical Equations)

No, this is not an accounting paper. I can’t even balance my check book. The fundamental principle in chemistry is the Law of Conservation of Matter. Simply stated, stuff in an ordinary chemical reaction is neither created nor destroyed. (I can’t account for physicists who monkey around with matter and energy…….). Matter, of course, can …

Chemical Formulas (Formulae? It’s Geek to Me)

Now that we’ve looked into naming chemicals, we need to look into formulas. There are several types of formula, each providing us with information. At its simplest form (molecular) the formula provides us with the elements comprising the compound and the number of each. Previously we considered two oxides of carbon, one containing equal numbers …

Name That Chemical!

Betcha you didn’t know you had signed up for a foreign language. We need to (at least) look at classifying and naming this humongous mess of stuff we call matter. Again, we’re looking at an almost infinite number of items. To begin with, chemicals are either organic or inorganic. Generally, chemical compounds containing carbon are …

Electrons. Chemistry Where It’s At

In a previous post, we took a peek at the structure of the atom. We looked at how atoms (elements) build up in weight, most of which consists of positively charged protons and uncharged neutrons, roughly equal in mass to each other. The atomic number of each element is equal to its number of protons. …

Ain’t Science Wonderful

One of the singular accomplishments in science was the assembling of chemical elements into what is known today as the Periodical Table. This was done before computers and many of the other measurement devices we take for granted nowadays. Dmitri Mendeleev, a 19th century Russian professor of chemistry, did much of the heavy lifting toward …

Peer Review

The term “Peer Review” is often used in a scientific context. It describes a process whereby a scientific paper is reviewed by other scientists. The process is designed to point out errors, non sequitors and other pitfalls. Scientists and other writers have a perfectly human weakness (and perhaps defensivness) toward criticism, even so-called “constructive” criticism. …

Expertise

I am not a lawyer. My career as a forensic chemist, however, placed me within the environment of the criminal justice system. For most of that stretch, I had the title of forensic chemist. The job involved identification of controlled substances (illegal drugs). Drug law enforcement is classified as a “victimless crime”, which is to …

Demography is Destiny

This nation was founded on the novel notion that people should select the ones who govern us, rather than kings, queens or emporers, whose sole qualification was birth in the right family. The ability to vote was originally limited to white male property owners. It took over a century for women to be granted suffrage, …