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Ci Newsletter #12: An antiviral timeline and 25 periodic tables

Andy @ Compound Interest
Andy @ Compound Interest
Welcome to the latest Ci newsletter! This fortnight we’ve got a timeline of antivirals, a collection of periodic tables for the upcoming National Periodic Table Day, a look at how I ended up creating Compound Interest, and more!

A short history of antivirals
Click to view graphic on the C&EN site
Click to view graphic on the C&EN site
COVID has generated unprecedented levels of interest in antiviral medicines, but they’re just the latest in a long line of antivirals going back almost 70 years. The latest edition of Periodic Graphics in Chemical & Engineering News looks at some of the key drugs, from the first antiviral to be approved to antivirals for HIV and Influenza, as well as briefly summarizing how some of these compounds work.
COVID & lateral flow tests
On the subject of COVID, after we seemingly dodging it since the start of the pandemic, the UK government’s policy of ‘let’s all catch Omicron’ finally caught up with our family. Happily, the hardest part of having it has been keeping a toddler with increasing levels of cabin fever entertained during isolation. Over the past year or so we’ve all run countless lateral flow tests, so it was interesting to have some of my assumptions about them challenged after sharing this image on Twitter.
Andy Brunning
Two vaccinated adults versus two unvaccinated kids. Check out that viral load!
Like, I expect, most of you, I’d assumed that the intensity of the test lines correlated pretty well with the viral load. However, I’m reliably informed by those who know more about it than me that this isn’t an inference we can confidently make, due to the other factors (swabbing technique, flow through the test, humidity, temperature, and so on) which can vary.
I’m still having a hard time reconciling this with the observed fading of my positive test as the infection recedes, but I guess that the point that’s being made is that using LFTs beyond the question of “Am I positive for COVID, yes or no?” is beyond their limited capacity.
National Periodic Table Day
National Periodic Table Day is coming up on 7th February, marking the date on which John Newlands’ first periodic table of elements was published way back in 1863 (and fittingly it’s also only a day before Dmitri Mendeleev’s birthday). If you’re looking for a variety of periodic tables to commemorate the occasion there’s 25 different themed ones available on the website, from a table of element name origins to element abundances and applications. Check them all out here.
Click to view periodic tables on the Ci site
Click to view periodic tables on the Ci site
My career journey
As part of #YoungScientistNetworking, the creation of @QuantumTessera over on Twitter, I was asked to share my career journey so far. So, for those who are interested, here’s my Twitter thread detailing how I wound up working at an exam board for my day job while running Compound Interest on the side. Warning: it’s on the long side!
Andy Brunning
It’s my turn to contribute to #YoungScientistNetworking (organised by @QuantumTessera), so here’s the (convoluted) story of how I muddled my way to working at an exam board, running a successful chemistry website (@compoundchem) and being a published author (1/33)
Grapefruits and medication
The chemical structure of bergamottin, a compound in grapefruits
The chemical structure of bergamottin, a compound in grapefruits
February is National Grapefruit month, which is a great opportunity to highlight the curious effects that some grapefruit compounds can have on some medications. The main culprits are a family of chemical compounds called furanocoumarins, and particularly the compounds bergamottin & dihydroxybergamottin, which can stop some drugs from being broken down in the body at usual rates. There’s more detail in an old infographic available here.
Chemistry news and features
Making hydrogen from banana peels
Xenon gas scans show hidden lung damage in long COVID patients
Direct evidence emerges for the existence of two forms of liquid water
Normal, COVID-free service will be resumed in the next issue. Until then, please share the newsletter if you’re enjoying it, and hit the reply button if you’re reading this in your emails to pass on any comments or suggestions.
Thanks for reading,
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Andy @ Compound Interest
Andy @ Compound Interest @compoundchem

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