Dams are huge concrete constructions built to store water. You must have definitely seen one while traveling between cities. They are used to control flood hazards, store water for irrigation, and produce hydroelectric power. These are the benefits of a dam. But did you know they are also harmful in many ways?
Sun is the life giver to everything on earth. Plants, animals and humans spring to life with the touch of the first sunrays. The sun's energy or solar energy is a form of renewable energy received from the Sun in the form of solar radiation. This energy can be used to produce solar electricity.
We all know the ill effects of too much CO2 being in the atmosphere. This is the gas that primarily contributes to the phenomenon of global warming. The problem is that though man is producing more and more CO2 everyday how does one actually catch the CO2 we emit and what do we do with it once we do so.
It is easy to pick out Saturn in a map of our solar system. You see it portrayed with its beautiful rings that surround the planet. Today scientists are discovering that one of the moons of Saturn, Titan has the chemistry properties to make it viable to sustain life.
Our country is highly dependent on coal, as a major source of power. Today with growing environmental awareness, India has vowed to reduce its coal emissions with new power plants using clean coal technologies.
Antibiotics are so common today that we take them for granted. Whenever we fall ill or get injured the doctor gives us an antibiotic to fight diseases and prevent infections. One of the first antibiotics discovered by man was Penicillin. It was discovered by Alexander Fleming, and is a drug that has been widely adopted and has lead to the development of other successful antibiotics.
Taking a picture is such a simple thing these days. Everyone seems to have a digital camera. If not, most mobile phones come with cameras. Yet in the beginning photography was as much a science as it was an art. The invention of film is where the chemistry and physics of photography collide.
It is common practice for us to boil a glass of milk before having it. Did you know that this practice has its origins in Chemistry and the benefits of which was first discovered by the French chemist Louis Pasteur.
We use a lot of water in our daily for drinking, cooking, washing and sanitary purposes. Today we are facing a water shortage. It has been estimated that by 2050 almost a third of the people on our planet will not have access to this resource.
Plastic plays an important role in our lives. From the toothbrush that you use in the morning to the alarm clock you set at night, it is very likely that you use some plastic everyday. Japanese scientists have now discovered a new substance that promises to be a possible alternative to plastic.
You may have observed that when you leave an ice cube outside, it starts to melt and turn into water. This is because the temperature outside your freezer is much higher. Imagine then what the effect of global warming will be to those places that are full of ice. One such place is Greenland, which has lost 1500 cubic kilometres between the year 2000 and 2008.
Biofuels has long been considered an alternative to traditional fossil fuels. In the 80's this was one of the most popular solutions to the planets fuel crisis. Scientists today are realising the drawbacks of using this as an alternative to normal fuels.
One of the first things we study in chemistry is how the atom forms the basic building block of everything. It is the simplest unit of matter. But have you ever wondered when man first discovered the atom?
Ozone is a protective layer that surrounds the earth. Due to various forms of man made pollution there are holes forming in the ozone layer. If we do not take preventive action this continent sized hole will grow even bigger and have harmful effects for the planet.
We use it every morning and every night, yet we never stop to wonder how toothpastes actually prevent those nasty cavities and keep us away from that terrifying dentist. The chemistry behind it is quite simple really.
Alchemy is one of the earliest and mystical forms of chemistry. We often see references of it in storybooks and television serials. Here, alchemy has a mystical image that is tied up with wizards and their pursuit for the Philosopher's Stone. Yet alchemy is a very real science and has it roots in chemistry.
We have heard that photosynthesis is the process by which a plant converts solar energy to chemical energy by using chlorophyll. What you might not know is that scientists in France have discovered a way to use the same photosynthesis into electrical energy.
Heat and cold are two important factors that are critical for most chemical reactions. In science, the absolute zero temperature of a substance varies from the zero degree that you see on your thermometer.
Every once in a while we fall sick. Our parents use a thermometer to check how sick we are or if we are pretending so that we don't need to go to school. This little instrument is very reliable in telling how warm we really are.
Over millions of years, plants and animals have evolved materials with amazing properties - the sticky feet of geckos, spiders' silk, self-cleaning lotus leaves. Scientists are now learning to make products in the lab that imitate their properties; these are called biomimetics.
Quinine has been used as a cure for malaria since the 17th century. It was only later in the 1940s that other drugs replaced it. Discover how the medicinal properties of this wonder drug were discovered.
Just a hundred years ago, drugs were expensive and had to be obtained from exotic tropical trees. This changed with the discovery of an artificial compound called Salvarsan. It cured the dreaded disease syphilis and laid the foundation of modern medicine.
Benzene is one of chemistry's great stars. It has numerous applications, and is the basis for manufacturing many more useful compounds. But did you know its structure was a subject of a lot of controversy in the 19th century?
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), is sometimes called the most important chemical on earth, because it makes up our genes. But did you know the tale of its discovery was a long journey, involving many scientists?
Every year, our country adds more and more factories, which produce a wide variety of things. Along with such growth however, comes the challenge of ensuring the safety of workers and consumers. Chemical sensors are important tools in ensuring safety.
Chemical science has done much in the previous century to benefit humans - from creating new drugs, creating exciting new materials and discovering the basis of life. But as Spiderman says, with great power comes great responsibility. And the biggest responsibility is to protect the environment.
After you have done with your chemistry practicals at school, what do you do? You pour the chemicals down the sink. Now imagine thousands of factories doing that, and you'll realize we have a problem. Luckily a solution is coming about - green chemistry.
When doing chemistry experiments at school, you might have heard your teachers telling you to use as little as possible of every chemical. Now imagine of all chemistry could be done with just one drop! That's the idea of a lab-on-a-chip.
We know that too much carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is causing climate change. If we increased forest cover on land, we could reabsorb some of the CO2. But did you know the best solution is actually in the oceans?
If you look around, quite a lot of things in your home, your car or your school will be made of alloys. An alloy is a material made by smelting two or more metals together. Alloys have thousands of uses; indeed our lives would be very different without them. Let's have a look at some exciting alloys that will dominate our lives in the future.
Almost everything we use today - plastics, medicines, synthetic fabrics - is made by some chemical process or the other. Many of these require organic solvents like benzene or acetone, which are environmental pollutants. How nice would it be if there was a way to make these useful things without needing harmful solvents?
Today, clothes of all colours cost the same. But did you know that a few generations ago, the cost depended on the colour of the cloth? This was because dyes were expensive to obtain. Tyrian Purple was a dye so expensive that only kings could afford it!
Today, advances in science are made in well-furnished research institutes, such as the Tata Chemicals Innovation Centre. Did you know that one of the earliest research institutes was the House of Wisdom in Baghdad?
Like fish in the ocean, we humans too, live in a giant ocean. We spend all our lives in a gigantic ocean of plasma, but we're barely aware what it is! Physicist Max Babi explains all about plasma - the fourth state of matter.
We depend on coal-burning thermal power plants for much of our electricity. But do you know that coal mines are extremely dangerous places? Let's read how a simple lamp made coal mines much safer places to work in by shedding some light on the situation.
When you have a bright idea, who do you share it with? When scientists have a bright idea, they share it with other scientists in a 'learned society'. This tradition was begun by Britain's Royal Society.
In the Stone Age, chemistry was unknown. However, humans had learned the use of pigments for making pictures and symbols. We can see them in caves around the world. How did they know about these pigments?
It glows a bright green, it comes from a jellyfish, and is often found in the dark corners of scientific labs. Sounds eerie? But it is one of the best friends biotechnologists have, and has helped us solve many mysteries of life!
Last year, Venkatraman 'Venki' Ramakrishnan won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering how the ribosome works. The method he uses has helped a lot of other scientists Maurice Wilkins, Linus Pauling and Dorothy Hodgkin win the Prize too. It's called Crystallography.
The English poet Keats wrote a famous poem called Lamia, criticising scientists. He lamented that they had 'unwoven the rainbow' - i.e. by explaining how a rainbow is created, destroyed its beauty. But the science that explains a rainbow, also explains the secrets of life and the birth of the universe!
Your friend might have been given tamiflu to cure him of a bout of bird-flu, but did he end up with a stomach-ache too? Like tamiflu, many medicines have side-effects. In the future, we may have a new form of medicine called peptides that won't have any side-effects!
Few of us can resist admiring the pretty colours on a butterfly's wings. They are fabulous when they catch and reflect the sun's rays. But did you ever imagine that they could be used to make currency notes safer?
You've probably had fights with your siblings over chocolates. But did you know that your children might have to fight one day over a glass of drinking water? Let's see what we can do to avoid a situation like that.
Ever had the experience of going to dad for pocket money, and he starts grumbling about how expensive everything has become? Especially the cost of fuel? If the price of petrol was less, you might get a little more pocket money, wouldn't you?
Today, with a digital camera, we can snap / an image, upload it on the net and share it with our friend in a jiffy. But when photography started, it took hours to take a photograph, which would come out very blurred. Let's take a trip backward in time, and see how photography began.
The 19th century was a turning point in India's history, with many new technologies introduced by the British. Inspired, some Indians wished that our country too should be at the forefront of discovery. That's how India's oldest scientific research institute started.
We've heard scientists telling us that global warming is causing the ice in Antarctica and the Arctic Ocean to melt. Did you know that these ice sheets hold some secret stories in them? It's the story of how our earth's atmosphere changed over many millions of years!
Today, we rely on carbon-based fuels for almost all our energy needs. Coal is used for electricity and petroleum products for moving vehicles. But these cause pollution and global warming. Many scientists and economists have suggested moving to a hydrogen-based economy.
Did you know that just one-thousandth of the sun's light that reaches the earth could satisfy all of humanity's energy nine times over? What if we capture this energy cheaply? Perhaps, artificial leaves are the answer?
Imagine you're an electron on a motorcycle, zooming along on a smooth, empty road. No speed breakers or potholes to stop you. In an instant, you've reached your destination. Well, for an electron, such a road is called a superconductor.
Today, when you have an illness, you have to take medicine in several doses, as pills or syrups. Imagine a day when you have to take the drug only once, and it works a whole lot better. Nanotechnology can help do that.
As we start celebrating the International Year of Chemistry, let's think about chemistry and beauty. What makes an experiment beautiful? Does it have to be clever, or prove something unbelievable? And which is the most beautiful of them all?
Heard of praseodymium and dysprosium? They sound like tongue twisters, don't they? They're a part of our daily lives - right inside our gaming consoles, mobile phones and digital cameras! So let's see how they affect us.
In the Second World War, soldiers injured on the battlefield often died of very low blood pressure before they could reach hospital. But there was a dramatic change when the Korean War happened. There was a miracle life saver around - dextran.
We live in a world where petroleum and coal are getting rarer and more expensive. We also know they contribute to global warming. Experts are now looking towards other sources of fuel like shale gas. Let's try and understand more.
Today, most of our vehicles and electric power plants run on fuels that come from petroleum. The supply of these fuels will end a few decades from now. So what would power our cars and homes? The answer may be lithium.
You'll have heard the fairy tale of Goldilocks - the girl who ate the Little Bear's Soup because it was neither too hot nor too cold. Well, life needs a planet just like that - neither too hot, nor too cold.
If someone you know gets hurt and needs a lot of blood, you have to find a blood donor who has the same blood group. Did you wonder why this is so necessary? Why not anyone's blood? The answer lies in the chemistry of blood.
Over time, the science of medicine has got better. Now few of us suffer much from infectious diseases like malaria or typhoid, and many of us live longer lives. But with age come new kinds of illness like Alzheimer's. Completely new kinds of medicines are needed to treat such illnesses.
Things made of plastic, from credit cards to spoons to bags, have become so common in our lives that we can hardly think of life without them. Yet all plastics are made from petroleum, which will run out in a few decades. What do we do next?
If you look at an old pair of pyjamas or Bermudas, you might notice that the elastic has given way, and does not snap back into shape anymore. What if there was an elastic that never went out of shape? Well, there is, and it's right in our bodies!