News You Can Use

Ever wonder how chemistry is related to the news you read or hear about? Check out these recent news topics to make the connection between what's going on in the world and chemistry.


A U.S. Army engineer removes the fuse from a Russian-made mine
Credit: U.S. Army photo by
Spc. Derek Gaines/Wikipedia

A New Way of Detecting Landmines

Scientists have developed a new way of detecting landmines that could replace either dogs or metal detectors and that promises to be less costly and as reliable as current techniques.

Credit: Mas Subramanian

A New Pigment Comes out of the Blue

Scientists have patented a blue pigment that is environmentally friendly and non-toxic. This is good news, because many blue pigments are toxic or cause cancer.

Credit: The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company

Making Tires “Green”

Cars may soon be equipped with the world’s first “green” tires made from plant byproducts rather than petroleum or rubber trees—the traditional raw materials used to make tires. This new type of tire would be produced by microbes that convert sugar into rubber.

Moving Satellites with Ions

Dawn, a spacecraft that will explore two large asteroids, is powered by an innovative ion propulsion engine. This type of engine is so efficient that it can thrust off and on for five years, gradually adding velocity.


Atomic Elements Get a Weight Change

Ten atomic elements are undergoing a change that will be listed on new periodic tables. Their atomic weights will be posted as intervals instead of a single value, a change that will be critical to calculations in scientific research and for industrial applications.

Credit: Peggy Greb, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Rare Earths: Valuable and in Short Supply

Inside your cell phone, laptop, and iPod is a small bit of what chemists call “rare earth metals.” They are not particularly rare, but the places where they occur have many people worried about a continual supply to keep our electronics running.

Copyright © The Ritter Group 2006-2010

Try, Try Again

What if you tried a chemical experiment and it failed? Would you do it over? What if it failed 1,200 times? Most of us would give up way before that! But Tobias Ritter, a chemistry professor and researcher at Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., kept experimenting.


New Elements on the Periodic Table

The periodic table is expanding! Two elements, first discovered in 1998 and 2000, have been recognized by an international committee of chemists. The discovery of elements 114 and 116 is now official!


Superfast Computers

Do you wish your laptop would start faster? That you could switch it on and, one second later, it would be ready? Or that you could record and watch entire movies on your mobile phone? These scenarios may be possible in the near future thanks to a new type of memory chip called phase-change memory.