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ACS in the News - December 24, 2009

ACS in the News - December 24, 2009

'ACS in the News' publishes daily articles from newspapers, blogs and magazines about the American Chemical Society and its 38 peer-reviewed journals. Full-text links to the articles below can also be found in the attached document.

The Daily Telegraph (London, England: daily circulation 842,912)

“Spiders' webs to be used to create glue”

December 24, 2009

The glue from spiders' webs could be used to create a new generation of eco-friendly adhesives, scientists believe. It is hoped these new glues will replace current petroleum-based ones. Much research has been done on spider web silk, which rivals steel in its strength. However, scientists know comparatively little about web glue, which coats the silk threads and is among the world's strongest biological glues. Researchers at the University of Wyoming discovered that the golden orb weaver spider made web glue from glycoproteins, or proteins with bits of sugar attached. Research author Omer Choresh said that they had identified two new glycoproteins in the glue. The research was published in the monthly journal Biomacromolecules.

FOX News (New York, N.Y.: 23.6 million monthly unique users)

“Anti-Hunger Smells Could Battle Obesity”

December 23, 2009

Anti-hunger aromas that make one feel full could help fight the global obesity epidemic, scientists now suggest. Anti-hunger aromas that make one feel full could help fight the global obesity epidemic, scientists now suggest. Everyone is familiar with scents that arouse the appetite, as well as odors that turn the stomach. But apparently molecules that make up a food's aroma can also activate areas of the brain that trigger the feeling of fullness. As people chew food, scents wafting up to the back of the nose from inside the mouth help quench the sensation of hunger, food technologist Rianne Ruijschop at NIZO Food Research in Ede, The Netherlands, and her colleagues found. Ruijschop and her colleagues detailed their findings in the November 11 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

RedOrbit (Dallas, Tex.: 1.6 million monthly unique users)

“Inexpensive 'Dipstick' Test For Pesticides In Foods”

December 23, 2009

Scientists in Canada are reporting the development of a fast, inexpensive "dipstick" test to identify small amounts of pesticides that may exist in foods and beverages. Their paper-strip test is more practical than conventional pesticide tests, producing results in minutes rather than hours by means of an easy-to-read color-change, they say. The study was published in ACS' Analytical Chemistry, a semi-monthly journal. John Brennan and colleagues note in the new study that conventional tests for detecting pesticides tend to use expensive and complex equipment and in some cases can take several hours to produce results. They cite a growing need for cheaper, more convenient, and more eco-friendly tests for pesticides, particularly in the food industry.

Medical News Today (U.K.: 1.1 million monthly unique users)

“School Classroom Air May Be More Polluted With Ultrafine Particles Than Outdoor Air”

December 24, 2009

The air in some school classrooms may contain higher levels of extremely small particles of pollutants - easily inhaled deep into the lungs - than polluted outdoor air, scientists in Australia and Germany are reporting in an article in ACS' semi-monthly journal Environmental Science & Technology. In an effort to fill those gaps in knowledge, the scientists studied levels of ultrafine particles in 3 elementary school classrooms in Brisbane, Australia. They found that on numerous occasions ultrafine particle levels in the classrooms were significantly higher than outdoors. The highest levels occurred during art activities such as gluing, painting and drawing when indoor levels were several times higher than outdoor levels.

Science (Washington D.C.: weekly circulation 125,000)

“Harsh Reaction to Chemistry Claims Cast Doubt on Reactome Paper”

December 23, 2009

A newly developed research tool called a reactome array, which has attracted widespread interest from biologists, has come under intense fire from scientists who say the description of the device in the 9 October issue of Science includes “impossible” chemical reactions and makes little sense. The publication drew immediate attention because the array promises to establish the functions of a myriad of enzymes and probe the metabolisms of bacteria and other kinds of cells. Last week, Science acknowledged the furor, publishing online an “Editorial Expression of Concern” in which the journal’s editor-in-chief, Bruce Alberts, notes that “serious questions have been raised about the methods and data presented.” “It was just so obvious the chemistry was flawed,” says biochemist Laura Kiessling of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, editor-in-chief of ACS Chemical Biology.

Nature (London, England: 668,400 monthly unique users)

“A toast to Mendeleev, who merits more than periodic honour”

December 24, 2009

Before the year is out, let's raise a glass to the great Russian chemist Dmitrii Mendeleev, to celebrate the 140th anniversary of his periodic table of the elements. Russia has commemorated this, and the 175th anniversary of Mendeleev's birth, with a postage stamp (pictured) and a two-rouble silver coin. Mendeleev's outstanding achievement was to organize all the chemical knowledge of the day into a single table and to predict the existence of new elements such as scandium, gallium and germanium. Mendeleev's periodic law and periodic table of the elements were welcomed by the world's scientific community, and yet he received scant recognition for his work during his lifetime. He was never awarded a Nobel prize, for example. And the third Tsar Alexander is said to have blocked Mendeleev's election as a full member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, although he was allowed to continue as a corresponding member. However, Mendeleev has been recognized more recently. This year, the American Chemical Society celebrated his periodic table during its national chemistry week, with the theme 'Chemistry — it's elemental'.

The Medical News (Sydney, Australia: 469,300 monthly unique users)

“Bacterial DNA reveals a rise in antibiotic resistant genes”

December 24, 2009

Antibiotic resistance in the natural environment is rising despite tighter controls over our use of antibiotics in medicine and agriculture, Newcastle University scientists have found. Bacterial DNA extracted from soil samples collected between 1940 and 2008 has revealed a rise in background levels of antibiotic resistant genes. Newcastle University's Professor David Graham, who led the research, said the findings suggest an emerging threat to public and environmental health in the future. Published online this week in the academic journal Environmental Science and Technology, the report uses data taken from five sites in the Netherlands.

Chemistry World (London, England: “read by 65,000 scientists monthly”)

“Cutting edge chemistry in 2009”

December 18, 2009

What revelations caused the biggest buzz in chemistry labs around the globe during 2009? With the help of an expert panel of journal editors, Chemistry World reviews the ground-breaking research and important trends of the year's published chemical science papers… Graphene, the single atom thick layer of carbon, hogged the spotlight yet again in 2009. One fascinating finding was that electrical conducting graphene can be reversibly hydrogenated to electrically insulating graphane, using atomic hydrogen. Daniel Elias's team, at the University of Manchester, hope their technique will boost the prospects of graphene-based nanoelectronics. Other work edging these devices closer to reality included state-of-the-art routes to chop graphene into smooth edged bite-size pieces. A technique developed by Pablo Jarillo-Herrero's team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology involved depositing nickel nanoparticles onto the surface of graphene and then heating it. The nickel then undergoes a thermally-activated catalytic reaction with the carbon - chewing it up in to small pieces and giving off methane. (Nano Letters)

… From the Blogs

Biomimicry News

“Dental delight: Tooth of sea urchin shows formation of biominerals”

December 23, 2009

Some of the most common minerals in biology, including those in bones and shells, have a mysterious structure: Their crystals are positioned in the same orientation, making them behave as one giant crystal, even though they do not look like a faceted crystal. It's as if grains of salt were spilled on a rug, yet instead of landing randomly, all wound up with exactly the same angle and rotation. In a new study in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Pupa Gilbert, a professor of physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has explained this seemingly miraculous feat of nature.

Philosophy of Science Portal


December 23, 2009

What makes the snowflakes flutter down almost hypnotically when you shake a snow globe? People have been mesmerized by these transparent spheres enclosing a miniaturized scene since the first snow globe appeared in France almost 200 years ago. A new video in the American Chemical Society (ACS) Chemistry of Holidays series answers that question in brilliant high-definition detail. The video, released today, showcases an actual general chemistry, or chemistry for nonscience majors, laboratory session at the Catholic University of America (CUA) devoted to the chemistry of the December/January holidays. It is available at