Chemicals and Environment

If you find yourself behind the wheel of a car at a DUI checkpoint tonight, having consumed 14 Jello shots, you are doomed and rightly so. But scientifically it's a matter of how doomed, though at that time you will be unlikely to fully appreciate an important, widely-used chemical reaction that was invented by Sir Ewart Jones in 1946—The Jones Oxidation.

It is based on a very simple reaction, which can be monitored by a color change (1). Color yourself stupid. And then learn some science before you get hammered this evening (but don't drive.)

Chromium gets its name from chrôma,  the Greek word for color. And those Greeks...

"Lying" is considered one of those words civilized people should never say. That's why politicians never use it. Instead, their opponents are "misinformed" or "misspeaking" or "using alternative facts." 

Well, the time for civility is over. Journalist -- if we can actually call him that -- Danny Hakim is lying to you. And it's not his first rodeo, either. He's built quite a track record for himself at the New York Times, publishing distorted information about GMOs and comparing agricultural pesticides to "Nazi-made sarin gas." 

Now, Mr. Hakim has written an...

It's that time of year again. Flowers are beginning to bloom, trees are turning green, the birds are chirping a little louder ... and the Environmental Working Group is scaring you about perfectly safe and healthy food. 

Once again, the EWG has released its annual "Dirty Dozen," a list of fresh produce found in grocery stores all over America that EWG thinks is killing you1. And like obliging lap dogs, the media -- as always, without fail, every single year -- reported the results of the "study" without even the slightest shred of criticism or critical thinking.

So, what is killing us this year? Strawberries are #1. Spinach is #2. Spinach! The upside is that if you're the sort of person who doesn't like spinach, now you can point to some pseudoscience that...

At the Council, we specialize in taking complex scientific and medical issues and crafting them into a form that can be understood by non-scientists, while at the same time not omitting crucial information. And talk about timing! We don't get a challenge like this every day. This one is special. Do people pee in the pool? How about bears? We shall see.

The world can be broken down into two broad categories:

1) Those who deny that they pee in the pool.

2) Those who won't go in the pool because they know that the people in group #1 are a bunch of liars.

Given these two facts, it is difficult to understand why anyone would want to study whether urine is found in pools, let alone how much. But, a...

The line between deliberately manipulating a story or poorly reporting the facts is perilously thin, and often based on the subjectivity of the reader.

During Sunday’s Academy Awards presentation, the United States’ ‘paper of record’, the New York Times, launched an advertising blitz positioning itself as the highbrow ethical responder to the spate of so-called ‘fake news.’ “The truth is hard…to find…to know,” the add proclaimed, somberly.

It’s a powerful message, one that the public and the media should reflect upon—including the leadership at the Times itself....

No matter the evidence, some people always will refuse to accept it. Some of those people are university professors.

Joel Moskowitz is one of those professors. With a background in mathematics and social psychology, he now serves as Director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California-Berkeley School of Public Health. And he is on a crusade to prove that California (yes, the state that passed Proposition 65, which labels almost anything a carcinogen) is secretly hiding data that shows cell phones are giving people cancer.

Like 9/11 and vaccine truthers, Dr....

It's a good thing that there's always someone around to scare us, or we couldn't possibly be perpetually scared. Fortunately, the Maryland State Children’s Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council (CEHPAC) stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded (by using the word "children"). CEHPAC wants you to believe that WiFi in your kid's school is going to give them cancer, and has issued a press release recommending that schools limit or eliminate WiFi.

The group's press release was equal parts propaganda, bad science, and idiocy. A few examples:

  • The Maryland State Department of Education should recommend that local...

If there is anything that infuriates beach and ocean lovers, it is the sight of plastic trash washing up on the beach. And as we use more and more plastic instead of glass (See: Russia's Beautiful Garbage Beach) this form of pollution can only grow. A recent article in Business Insider paints a sobering picture about how much plastic is actually floating around our oceans:

Already, the ocean is filled with about 165 million tons of plastic.

That's 25 times heavier than the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Rebecca Harrington,...

Dear Homeland Security Guys,

Despite the title, I am not suggesting that anyone reading this should actually try it. I just liked the title. And, not only is this information readily available, it's unnecessary. If any of you out there want to poison someone, just take them to Chipotle (1). (See: "Chipotle Takes The Stairway To Heavin'" and "Chipotle's Year From Hell-A-Peno."

Instead, this is a little chemistry lesson, which will: 1) discourage roughly 100 percent of even the "human-heads-in-the-freezer" guys who may...

Last week I speculated on the cause of the poisoning death Kin-Jong-Nam, using this table of common poisons:

Sarin (red circle), which is functionally identical to the real culprit VX gas, (except much less potent) seemed like a reasonable candidate because:

  1. It penetrates skin
  2. It is deadly when inhaled
  3. It works really quickly
  4. It requires little...