Slinn Pickings – latest chemistry news

Chemist Robert Slinn contributes his favorite news snippets from the world of chemistry

  • Watching Protein Folding with LC-MS – Predicting how proteins fold requires either powerful supercomputers or cloud sourcing projects such as Folding@home, which uses people’s ability to recognize patterns. As folding usually occurs within milliseconds, it is also difficult to observe directly. Michael Gross and colleagues, Washington University in St. Louis, USA, describe a proof-of-principle study in which they use a ‘snapshot’ approach to watch the protein barstar fold.
  • Knee protectors can form allergenic substances on the skin – Common rubber products can form isothiocyanates in contact with skin and cause contact allergy. This is the conclusion of research carried out at the University of Gothenburg (Sweden). Isothiocyanates are a group of reactive substances that are potent contact allergens.
  • California under fire for approving controversial pesticide – The state of California is being sued following the decision by its Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) to approve the use of the controversial fumigant pesticide methyl iodide, despite objections from chemists and Nobel laureates.
  • Food packaging to incorporate freshness indicator | News | The Engineer – Strathclyde University researchers are developing a plastic indicator that alerts consumers to food that is starting to go off. The new indicator will change colour to provide a warning when food is about to lose its freshness because it has broken or damaged packaging, has exceeded its best-before date, or has been poorly refrigerated.
  • Reactor could produce fuel from sunlight | News | The Engineer – A research team from ETH Zurich, the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), and Caltech has developed a solar cavity-receiver reactor that can thermochemically split water and CO2 using concentrated solar radiation.