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The Ci Newsletter #6: Lateral flow tests, nappies, and poppies and painkillers

Andy @ Compound Interest
Andy @ Compound Interest
Welcome to another edition of the Compound Interest newsletter! My family of three has become a family of four since the last issue, so there’s some relevant baby-related chemistry to kick things off. There’s also the latest #ChemVsCOVID graphic looking at how COVID lateral flow tests work, a look at poppy chemistry in advance of Remembrance Day, and new research on the classic Coke & Mentos demo.

The chemistry of disposable nappies
Click to view the full graphic on the CI site
Click to view the full graphic on the CI site
Since I’m currently refamiliarising myself with newborn poo explosions, it seemed like a good time to dredge up this graphic on how disposable nappies use chemistry to deal with baby waste. Superabsorbant sodium polyacrylate is my favourite polymer right now, and if you’ve ever wondered how the colour-changing wetness indicators on some nappies work there’s a chemical explanation for that, too.
How COVID lateral flow tests work
Click to view the full graphic on the CI site
Click to view the full graphic on the CI site
It’s a year since the UK started piloting the use of lateral flow tests to enable more widespread mass testing for COVID. The latest graphic in the #ChemVsCOVID series with the Royal Society of Chemistry looks at how these tests work, as well as how they compare to PCR testing in terms of accuracy.
World Diabetes Day
Click to view the full graphic on the CI site
Click to view the full graphic on the CI site
November is National Diabetes Month, and World Diabetes Day is coming up on 14 November. The latest figures show that 537 million adults worldwide are living with diabetes – up from the figure of 463 million in 2019 quoted in this graphic. The theme for this year’s World Diabetes Day is ‘Access to Diabetes care’, highlighting that millions of those suffering from diabetes do not have access to the insulin, medicines, or monitoring that they need.
Poppies and painkillers
Click to view the full graphic on the CI site
Click to view the full graphic on the CI site
With Remembrance Day coming up, here’s a look at some of the chemistry of one of its symbols: the poppy. This graphic looks at the pigments that give poppies their colour (and a rare yellow pigment not found in other flowers), and the well-known association between poppies and opium, along with other painkillers.
How many bubbles in a Coke & Mentos fountain?
The Coke and Mentos fountain is a classic demo in the chemistry classroom. If you’ve ever wondered exactly how many bubbles are produced in the process, Tom Kuntzleman has the answer in his latest paper, as well as a neat way of demonstrating the effect of temperature on the process.
Tommy Technetium (Tom Kuntzleman)
A single Mentos candy dropped in 500 ml of Diet Coke at (L to R) 10, 20, and 30 degrees Celsius. #cokeandmentos @ColoSciConf https://t.co/m5cy5hIJ3K
I’ve previously worked with Tom to create a graphic on some of his past research on the Coke and Mentos fountain. I particularly enjoy that his research on this demo shows there’s still plenty to learn about even the most commonplace science club reactions!
Click to view the full graphic on the CI site
Click to view the full graphic on the CI site
...and finally
It may shock you to learn that, with a newborn at home, I haven’t had much time to read chemistry-related articles over the past fortnight, but here are a couple of interesting ones I have managed to peruse:
Reaction vessel glass catalysed a classic origin of life experiment
Elements may have been forged on Earth, as well as in space
As always, if you enjoyed this newsletter, consider forwarding it to a friend or colleague, or sharing it on social media! And feel free to hit the reply button and get back to me with any comments or suggestions.
Thanks for reading,
Andy
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Andy @ Compound Interest
Andy @ Compound Interest @compoundchem

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