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Critter Chemistry

Insects may not be the most charismatic creatures on the planet, but what they lack in cuddliness, they make up for with chemical ingenuity. In Episode 20 of Speaking of Chemistry, Matt Davenport looks at three of the craziest six-legged

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Why Don’t We Recycle Styrofoam?

It’s common practice to recycle paper, glass, and many plastics—in fact, about 35% of the trash produced in the U.S. is recycled or composted. So why can’t we recycle what’s commonly referred to as Styrofoam? (It’s actually expanded polystyrene, or

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How To Make Synthetic Leather In An Eco-friendly Way

Alternatives to leather made from animal hides have been around for decades. Synthetic leather is in our car seats and our stylish jackets. But at least one of the chemicals used to make faux leather is highly toxic. In episode

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Beer Brewing Chemistry

Every beer brewer is locked into a high-maintenance relationship with yeast: finicky, alcohol-creating microorganisms. In Episode 17 of Speaking of Chemistry, brewmaster Max Filter fills us in on how he keeps his fermenting fungi happy. If this episode leaves you

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Hypoallergenic Isn’t Really A Thing

It’s a simple, common claim made on many personal care products: hypoallergenic. But what does that actually mean? Not much, explains Sophia Cai in episode 16 of Speaking of Chemistry. Turns out, hypoallergenic can mean whatever the manufacturer wants it

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What Does Space Smell Like?

One of the most surprising things about space is that it has a smell, NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins told Reddit readers this past summer. But how is that even possible? In episode 15 of Speaking of Chemistry, Matt Davenport sticks

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Is Bleaching Hair Bad For You?

If you’re looking for a new ‘do, you might be considering bleaching your flowing locks. But adding hydrogen peroxide to your head can actually do a lot of damage. In episode 14 of Speaking of Chemistry, Matt Davenport breaks down

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Four Facts About Sweat

New Year’s means drinking champagne, watching the ball drop, and making resolutions to get fit. Getting fit inevitably means sweating—but what is that stinky, salty fluid anyway? In Episode 13 of Speaking of Chemistry, Sophia Cai goes over four fun

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What Is Tinsel Made Of?

Christmastime means decking your halls (and tree) with shiny tinsel. But you might not sleep in heavenly peace if you knew what some of the stuff used to be made of. In Episode 12 of Speaking of Chemistry, Carmen Drahl

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Why fruit flies could make your beer better

We won’t hazard our theories on why Thanksgiving Eve is the biggest bar night in the U.S., but scientists do have a new explanation for why our drinks attract unwanted visitors. In Episode 11 of Speaking of Chemistry, Matt Davenport

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What You Need To Know About Microbeads

Your toothpaste and face scrub probably get their scrubbing power from tiny plastic beads contained within. In Episode 10 of Speaking of Chemistry, Lauren K. Wolf talks about these polyethylene “microbeads” and why environmental scientists and dentists alike are nervous

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Fighting a Killer Frog Fungus

It can be easy to forget that humans don’t have the market cornered when it comes to epidemics. In Episode 9 of Speaking of Chemistry, Matt Davenport talks about a fungus that is decimating frog populations as it spreads across

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All About Antibiotics

It’s getting colder in the U.S., which means more people coming down with runny noses, sore throats, coughs, and fevers. In Episode 8 of “Speaking of Chemistry”, Carmen Drahl talks about antibiotics- medications designed to kill bacteria- and why it’s

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Football, Concussions, and Brain Disease

Fall kicks off football season in the U.S. And in Episode 7 of “Speaking of Chemistry”, Lauren Wolf explains how scientists are racing to diagnose brain trauma in athletes including some NFL players, who experience repeated head injuries. If this episode leaves

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Restoring Art Done Right

In Restoring Art Done Right, episode 6 of “Speaking of Chemistry”, Sophia Cai shows you how chemists and conservators teamed up to remove graffiti from priceless art– Mark Rothko’s “Black on Maroon”. If this episode leaves you wanting more, read

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