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What I Learned in Chemistry

September 22, 2010

1. No, telephones and microwaves will not give us cancer! Yay! Here is why: well first of all, my chemistry professor said it so it must be true! And secondly, let us have a look at the electromagnetic spectrum. See how the harmful wavelengths like X-rays and Gamma rays are up in the very small wavelength section? See how microwaves are down low past visible light and close to radio waves? And nobody is freaking out about a lightbulb or a radio, now are they! So there you go. Cell phones and microwaves operate using..you guessed it..microwave radiation. So it’s right snuggled in between the non-harmful wavelengths like radio and visible. Not to worry!

2. If you want fruit to ripen, put it into a paper bag with another fruit that is already ripening. When fruits/veggies ripen, they release a chemical called ethylene, which in turn makes the ripening process faster. Cool!

3. Moisturizer does not provide moisture to your skin! No! I know! It’s insane and ridiculous! What it actually does is help your skin to retain the moisture it already has, by providing a protective layer to stop any moisture from escaping. Therefore, the best moisturizer you could use would be shortening. Ew!! I know. But it’s the thickest! Your skin would be silky smooth.

4. Cracking your knuckles is just pulling nitrogen gas into your joints. It has not been shown to cause arthritis.

Baby Skunks (and gunshots)b

Image by nebarnix via Flickr

5. If your dog is sprayed by a skunk, tomato juice is not the best option! My trusty chem prof says what you should really use is a mixture of hydrogen peroxide (bleach), baking soda and dish soap. This actually neutralizes the smell. He showed us some complicated looking molecular formulas and explained why it neutralizes the smell, but I got bored and stopped paying attention. Here’s a good recipe for de-stinking your doggie!

6. For anyone who drinks tap water (anyone? Is it just me??) if you’ve ever noticed that it is cloudy sometimes – don’t worry! The cloudiness is not because of mineral impurities, it is caused by tiny air bubbles coming out of solution. Sometimes our pipes are a cooler temperature and cool water holds more air than warmer water – so when we bring the water to a slightly warmer environment, some of the air comes out of solution in bubbles. But if you just leave the glass for a minute or so, the extra air should be released and your water will be clear and sparkly!

7. Don’t be fooled by bad marketing claims: if olive oil makes a big bold claim that it has “No Cholesterol!” that’s because CHOLESTEROL DOESN’T COME FROM PLANTS. Only a handful of plants produce any type of cholesterol, and not even the harmful kind. Bad cholesterol comes from animal products. So think of that the next time you get seduced by advertisement: don’t go favouring a certain brand for their lofty claims, or else you’ll look like a dummy. :)

8. What else did I learn in chemistry? That besides interesting factoids and trivia about day-to-day life, I can’t stand the subject. So here, Chemistry, a tribute and a shout-out to your good side. Live long and prosper.

Much love,

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. September 23, 2010 2:53 AM

    This was both fun and educational. Will you do a “top ten blogs” or something now because I feel like a stalker being subscribed only to you and three other people that never post. Thanks.

  2. September 23, 2010 11:52 AM

    Hey,
    I love this (until the part about you not being able to stand chem :P). This was really amusing and educational to read! Chemistry is great…..remember that everything in the world can be broken down into that little periodic table! That’s amazing :D
    Anyways, I’ll send you some personal info this weekend hopefully.
    Take care and keep posting!

    • September 23, 2010 1:37 PM

      Ha! Well what can I say, it’s just not my subject! But all sorts of organic chem trivia does tend to stay with me..hmm. Maybe I do love it deep down. :)

  3. Laura permalink
    September 23, 2010 1:16 PM

    Many studies say not to worry about cell phone radiation…but who are funding those studies?
    Cell phone radiation exposures damages DNA, so there is a cancer risk. If cell phone radiation doesn’t cause cancer, why do over 60% of insurance companies refuse to cover cell phone companies from potential cancer claims from long-term users? Why are countries forecasting costs of brain tumours to rise by 2030?

    I might write an article on this so I’ve been researching it a little lol

    • September 23, 2010 1:44 PM

      Those are all good points to consider. I wasn’t trying to get into the complexities of the insurance system or conspiracies about studies or anything like that, but very good points. I was just pointing out the science behind the radio waves, saying that the waves that cell phones use are not in and of themselves very harmful, they are weaker than even regular light rays that we get from lightbulbs! But it’s true that there are dangers, but other factors come in to play there, for example how much we use our phones! Definitely stuff to consider in there. :) Good idea for an article.

  4. Laura permalink
    September 23, 2010 1:22 PM

    And I’ve been worried about my cloudy tap water, nice to know it’s normal!

    • September 23, 2010 1:45 PM

      Well, if it doesn’t clear up within a few minutes, then my explanation will not hold and you should get worried!! So just keep an eye on it. :)

  5. September 26, 2010 12:49 PM

    And I totally learned how to make asprin in Chem class in high school, but for the life of me I can’t remember how now.

    …And you learned all this other cool stuff. Wish my Chem teacher had been that awesome.

    • September 26, 2010 3:06 PM

      Ooh we made aspirin in our lab too! But I can’t remember either, it was incredibly boring. Haha! Can you tell I’m not a huge fan? :)

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