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Articles on Chemistry

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Megalodon would have dwarfed today’s great white sharks. Christina Spence Morgan

Megalodon sharks ruled the oceans millions of years ago – new analyses of giant fossilized teeth are helping scientists unravel the mystery of their extinction

Megalodon, the world’s largest known shark species, swam the oceans long before humans existed. Its teeth are all that’s left, and they tell a story of an apex predator that vanished.
TRAPPIST-1e is a rocky exoplanet in the habitable zone of a star 40 light-years from Earth and may have water and clouds, as depicted in this artist’s impression. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Wikimedia Commons

To search for alien life, astronomers will look for clues in the atmospheres of distant planets – and the James Webb Space Telescope just proved it’s possible to do so

Life on Earth has dramatically changed the chemistry of the planet. Astronomers will measure light that bounces off distant planets to look for similar clues that they host life.
Introductory science classes typically require students to memorize facts, rather than teaching them the basis of scientific thinking. Maskot via Getty Images

Improving science literacy means changing science education

College science classes often fall short of helping students see connections across subjects. Can a new approach make a difference?
Most plastic products that are clear and strong are made using bisphenol A, or BPA. Beton Studio/iStock via Getty Images

What is BPA and why is it in so many plastic products?

The US Environmental Protection Agency is reexamining the health effects of bisphenol A. A chemist explains why BPA is in plastics and why it’s hard to find a safe replacement.
Figuring out what makes some proteins glow requires an understanding of chemistry. eLife - the journal

A celebrated AI has learned a new trick: How to do chemistry

The AI AlphaFold can figure out the three-dimensional protein structure any string of amino acids will become. It has now exceeded its training by figuring out what makes some proteins glow.
Plastic trash accumulates in trees and shrubs along the Los Angeles River. Citizen of the Planet/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

If plastic comes from oil and gas, which come originally from plants, why isn’t it biodegradable?

Plastic is made from oil and natural gas, which started out as fossilized plant and animal material. But buried deep underground for millions of years, those materials changed in important ways.
Many places have banned sunscreens with certain chemicals in an attempt to help protect coral reefs. Westend61 via Getty Images

Corals and sea anemones turn sunscreen into toxins – understanding how could help save coral reefs

Researchers have long suspected that an ingredient in sunscreen called oxybenzone was harming corals, but no one knew how. A new study shows how corals turn oxybenzone into a sunlight-activated toxin.
Sugar is just one of many flavor enhancers people and companies use to sweeten foods and beverages. Marie LaFauci/Moment via Getty Images

What’s the difference between sugar, other natural sweeteners and artificial sweeteners? A food chemist explains sweet science

Just because something is sweet doesn’t necessarily mean it is sugary. There are a number of molecules that taste sweet. To understand how and why takes a little bit of chemistry.
Nickel oxide, the gray-and-black-striped material, demonstrates unique properties when exposed to hydrogen. Purdue University/Kayla Wiles

Nickel oxide is a material that can ‘learn’ like animals and could help further artificial intelligence research

The ability to store information is central to learning and the field of artificial intelligence. Researchers have shown how a unique material shows basic learning properties similar to that of slugs.

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