Tag: Chemistry

We really don’t know that much yet..

In my advanced Chemistry classes I was thought that bases are substances that can donate electron pairs. Acids on the other hand, are substances that can accept them. Acids and bases where polar opposites. That was the law. Well, not anymore. I say that because of revelations like this one:

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Chemists at the University of California, Riverside have accomplished in the lab what until now was considered impossible: transform a family of compounds which are acids into bases.

As our chemistry lab sessions have taught us, acids are substances that taste sour and react with metals and bases (bases are the chemical opposite of acids). For example, compounds of the element boron are acidic while nitrogen and phosphorus compounds are basic.

The research, reported in the July 29 issue of Science, makes possible a vast array of chemical reactions – such as those used in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, manufacturing new materials, and research academic institutions.

“The result is totally counterintuitive,” said Guy Bertrand, a distinguished professor of chemistry, who led the research. “When I presented preliminary results from this research at a conference recently, the audience was incredulous, saying this was simply unachievable. But we have achieved it. We have transformed boron compounds into nitrogen-like compounds. In other words, we have made acids behave like bases.”

That is just f-ing unbelievable. Science doesn’t stand still. What’s golden today, may no longer be so tomorrow. It’s why I get seriously pissed at the settled science by consensus types. What’s next? Someone gonna figure out a way to reverse gravity?

This has been a long time coming..

And it is finally here:

For decades, policy makers have tried and failed to get Americans to eat less salt. In April 2010 the Institute of Medicine urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate the amount of salt that food manufacturers put into products; New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has already convinced 16 companies to do so voluntarily. But if the U.S. does conquer salt, what will we gain? Bland french fries, for sure. But a healthy nation? Not necessarily.

This week a meta-analysis of seven studies involving a total of 6,250 subjects in the American Journal of Hypertension found no strong evidence that cutting salt intake reduces the risk for heart attacks, strokes or death in people with normal or high blood pressure. In May European researchers publishing in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that the less sodium that study subjects excreted in their urine—an excellent measure of prior consumption—the greater their risk was of dying from heart disease. These findings call into question the common wisdom that excess salt is bad for you, but the evidence linking salt to heart disease has always been tenuous.

The problem isn’t salt: its genetics and bad habits. Sodium Chloride consumption is critical to help the body do a lot of things. I have believed that reducing it drastically as we are being told to do, was going to do more harm than good, and it looks like the science – real science – is now proving that. I also want to mention that I read a study a while back linking the massive rise in depression to the fact we where telling people to consume a lot less alt and to totally avoid the sun (vitamin D), both essential to keeping a healthy chemical balance necessary for mental stability.

BTW, this issue with salt was one of the things, like eggs, that for over a decade we where told the science had settled. They where wrong of course, and the scientific process, allowed to run its course, proved that. Enjoy that salt. It is good for you. I just wish we could hold the assholes that peddled this junk science accountable for screwing us all over for this long. My guess is they will just be given a pass.

The Earth Metal Problem

Freakonomics has a great post up that should give the environmentalist weenies fits:

Electric cars are all the rage today, but some of the smartest people I know believe that moving towards electric vehicles is a terrible idea. Looking casually as an outsider at the unappealing economics of electric vehicles (the need for a new and immensely expensive infrastructure, cars that cost much more than either traditional gas engines or hybrids, limited ranges and long recharging times), I find it hard to understand why the Obama administration is pushing electric cars.

One argument I’ve heard is “national security,” the idea being that electric vehicles would make the United States less dependent on imported oil. Be careful what you wish for, however, because if electric cars become a mainstay, we may be trading one dependence for another that is even more troubling. Ninety-five percent of the world’s output of rare-earth metals today comes from one country: China. By some estimates, demand will outstrip supply within five years. At least with oil we know there are fifty years of oil reserves readily available. Moreover, oil is produced all over the world, limiting the monopoly power of any one country.

To be fair, elements like dysprosium and praseodymium — how geeky is it that I can spell those correctly from memory? — are not economically viable to dig up unless you have a steady supply of slave cheap labor, which China has. As demand for these metals surges, the price will go up and domestic mining will become more feasible. Of course, our government is currently subsidizing electric cars and therefore distorting the market. And China’s embargo on Japan has already caused a mad scramble for metals.

What this story really demonstrates the stunning lack of thought that goes into so-called green industries. Rare earth metals are a pretty significant thing to be thinking about when it comes to electric cars. We can’t just wish them out of the ground through the power of positive liberal thinking. At some point, we’re going to have to start mining them — with all the pollution that entails. What will the greens do then?