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Chemistry Videos

   Chemistry of Chocolate

“The Chemistry of Chocolate” uses chocolate-making to illustrate and explain chemical reactions related to heat, melting point, and formation of crystal structures. 

Chemistry of Soaps and Detergents

It's a Wash: The Chemistry of Soap” explains how soap and detergents — surfactants — affect the surface tension of H2O to break up greasy dirt. 

  • Chemistry of Water

    “Water: H2O Molecules Made Clear” explains how the structure and behavior of H2O in liquid form gives water its properties, and make it a chemical essential for life.

  •    Cheeseburger Chemistry: Cheese

    “The Chemistry of Cheese” (part of a 6-part Cheeseburger Chemistry series) uses cheese-making to explain protein denaturing, coagulation, and the difference between chemical and physical change

    Molecule Structure, Properties

    “Mirror Molecule: Carvone” uses carvone, a chiral molecule, to explain how the “handedness” of a molecule can change its properties — in this case giving us the differing flavors of spearmint, caraway and dill.

  • Chemical Bonds

    “The Chemical Bond Between Cloves and Nutmeg” focuses on the variety, strengths — and placement — of chemical bonds in the structures of two nearly identical molecules, eugenol and isoeugenol.

  • Cheeseburger Chemistry: Burgers

    “The Chemistry of Burgers” (part of a 6-part Cheeseburger Chemistry series) outlines myoglobin protein structures and their chemical changes when exposed to heat — part of what turns a patty of red, raw ground beef into a tasty brown burger.

  • Cheeseburger Chemistry: The Bun

    “The Chemistry of Bread” (part of a 6-part Cheeseburger Chemistry series) uses bread-making to illustrate and explain how yeasts work to convert starches and sugars in flour to CO2 gas (fermentation); effects of heat on gas; and gluten protein structures

  • Cheeseburger Chemistry: Tomato

    “The Chemistry of Tomatoes” (one in a 6-part Cheeseburger Chemistry series) outlines the role ethylene plays in ripening tomatoes (and other fruits); the role of lycopene in color change; anddiffusion of gas

    The Chemistry of Green

    The Chemistry of Green” outlines the role of chlorophyll in photosynthesis, and the role ofpigments in making plants green (or making them appear green). Also in this collection: news stories from the archives of NBC News and Scientific American on chlorophyll, sunlight andbiofuels, green things (trees, grass, algae) and, for fun, a 1990 story about crayon colors; plus a diagram of the electromagnetic spectrum, and maps of plant zones

  • Cheeseburger Chemistry: Pickles

    “The Chemistry of Pickles” (one in a 6-part Cheeseburger Chemistry series) describes the role offermentation, lactic acid, and pH in the process of pickling food to preserve it. (The Latin root of the word “preserve” is traced in a separate Word Root.)

  • Cheeseburger Chemistry: Condiments

    “The Chemistry of Condiments” (one in a 6-part Cheeseburger Chemistry series) uses ketchup, mustard and mayo to explain two different types of mixtures: suspensions and colloidal dispersions (emulsions)

    Chemistry of Clean: Under the Sink

    It's a staple of Spring Cleaning: all-purpose ammonia cleaner. “The Dirt on Ammonia as a Cleaning Agent” explains how ammonia works with water to dissolve fatty acids, like stearic acid, in greasy dirt. 

  • Chemistry to Dye For: Dyes

    An 18-year-old London chemistry student tries to make synthetic quinine for malaria treatment, and instead creates the first synthetic dye. We tell the story of this 1856 Chance Discovery that transformed the textile industry worldwide. 

    Chemistry of Color: Flowers

    Roses are red; violets are...well, violet — but why? “The Chemistry of Flower Color” explains howpigment molecules — carotenoids and anthocyanins — give flowers the colors we see.

  • Chemistry of Polyamides: Nylon

    The 1930s invention of nylon revolutionized the global textile and materials industry. “Fabricating Fabric” outlines the molecular structure and impact of the first all-synthetic fiber. And we profile 21st century chemist Malika Jeffries-EL from Iowa State, who devises energy-efficient organic semiconductors and LEDs.

  • Chemistry of Biotoxins

    It's both horrifying and fascinating, the way venomous sea snails paralyze, then kill, their prey. We profile 21st Century Chemist Mande Holford of the City University of New York, who is working tosynthesize these biotoxins and develop powerful new painkillers.

    Common Scents: Chemistry of Smell

    Smell that? Our sense of smell is a complex set of chemical reactions. We profile 21st Century Chemist Nate Lewis, who's working to develop an artificial “nose” that can help detect odors, including hazardous gases and chemicals. A story on the carvone molecule adds information on how the nose distinguishes odors.

  •  Cleaning The Ocean: Chemistry of Dispersants

    On the anniversary of the final capping of the gushing oil well in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, we explain the chemistry of dispersants and immiscibles, in “How to Wash an Ocean.” 

     Origami Chemistry: How to Fold a Molecule

    21st Century Chemist Kent Kirshenbaum of New York University engineers and folds synthetic peptoids in hopes of creating “hunter-killer” molecules that can target and destroy deadlybacteria like staph (MRSA). A separate Chance Discoveries video tells the story of the first shatter-resistant safety glass.

     Nobel Efforts: Buckyballs and Graphene

    We mark the award of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with a look at two other notable Nobel-worthy advances: discovery of buckminsterfullerene, a 'surprise' carbon allotrope (along with diamond and graphite); and one of the most promising recent Chance Discoveries: graphene. 

  •   Chemistry of Changing Leaves  

    Why do tree leaves turn gold, orange and scarlet in the fall? “Chemistry of Changing Leaves” explains the role of pigment molecules, including chlorophyllcarotenoids, and anthocyanin. We also profile North Carolina State “green” chemist Elon Ison, who is designing catalysts to make safer, cleaner alternative fuels.

  •   Chemistry of Plastics: Polyethylene  

    So much of what we wear, sit on, use and touch every day is made, at least in part, of polymer plastics. “Chance Discoveries: Polyethylene” tells the story of how the world's most used plastic was first formed and developed into the “miracle” material of post-WWII America (as explained in a 1945 filmstrip, “The Kingdom of Plastics.”) 

  •   Chemistry of Fear and Fright

    Are you arachnophobic? Acrophobic? Ophidiophobic (afraid of snakes)? “Chemistry of Fear and Fright” explains how two hormonesadrenaline and cortisol, work to trigger a cascade of “fight or flight” fear responses when you're confronted by a spider, great height or snake. 

      Bulletproof Chemistry: Kevlar  

    As light as nylon yet harder than steel — “Chance Discoveries: Kevlar” tells the story of lab experiments with aromatic polyamides that produced the synthetic material now common in bicycle helmets, tires, and “bulletproof” police and combat gear (although not in fashion, despite the early designs of one apparel company). 

  •   Chemistry of Pumpkin Pie  

    Most recipes for Thanksgiving pumpkin pies call for clove and nutmeg — two distinct spices that come from two nearly identical molecules: eugenol and isoeugenol. “The Chemical Bond Between Cloves and Nutmeg” explains how the strength and placement of just one chemical bond makes eugenol responsible for the taste and aroma of cloves, and isoeugenol responsible for the taste and aroma of nutmeg.

  •   Carbon, Captured: Carbon Dioxide

    “The Chemistry of CO2: Carbon Dioxide,” uses CO2's molecular structure to explain and illustrate the Octet Rule (Rule of 8); and examines CO2's role in carbonation, the carbon cycle, and the Earth's atmospheresurface temperature, and ocean acidity

      Chemistry of Cellophane

    A Swiss chemist tries to stain-proof tablecloths by coating them with a viscous cellulose-based liquid, but it peels off in clear sheets when it dries. That new material, when refined, revolutionizes the way food is packaged and sold.   Chemistry of Crystals  

    Northern areas in winter are showcases for crystals. “The Chemistry of Ice” explains what happens when liquid H2O freezes into a solid crystal. “The Chemistry of Salt” examines the molecular structure of sodium chloride, or NaCl, and explains how this salt crystal can melt ice crystals on sidewalks and roads.

  •   How Atoms Bond: Ionic Bonds  

    How do atoms bond to form molecules? We use common table salt to show what happens between the electrons and nuclei in atoms of sodium and atoms of chlorine to bond them together into crystals of sodium chloride (NaCl). 

      Cheeseburger Chemistry  

    This original six-part Chemistry Now video series uses components of a cheeseburger to illustrate and explain common chemistry concepts and reactions. The Bun? Gas and sugar reactions. Cooking burgers? Heat, protein and Maillard reactions. Cheese? Phase change, from liquid to solid, and coagulation. Tomatoes? The role of ethylene in ripening and lycopene in color change, and gas diffusion. Pickles? Fermentation, acid and pH. And condiments? Mixtures: suspensions (ketchup and mustard) and emulsions (mayo and mayo-based special sauces).

      A Calendar Year of Chemistry  

    In this Chemistry Now original video series, we find examples of chemistry in the holidays and seasons of the annual calendar: Valentine's Day (“The Chemistry of Chocolate”), St. Patrick's Day (“The Chemistry of Green: Chlorophyll”), Halloween (“The Chemistry of Fear and Fright”) and Thanksgiving (“The Chemistry of Pumpkin Pie Spices”); from spring cleaning (“Chemistry of Household Cleaners”) to summer (“The Chemistry of Flower Color”), autumn (“The Chemistry of Changing Leaves”) to northern winters (“The Chemistry of Ice”).   

  •   Molecule Profiles  

    In this original Chemistry Now video and animation series, a dozen molecules and compounds are “profiled” to explain what makes H2O watery and soap soapy; why salt dissolves in water and how soap dissolves grease; why spearmint, dill, cloves and nutmeg have different tastes and aromas; and why grass is green, roses are red and violets are, well, violet. 

      Chance Discoveries  Many (if not most) experiments in the chemistry lab do not get significant results — or the expected results. In this Chemistry Now original video series, we highlight the curiosity, daring, and creativity of the best bench chemists by telling the stories of the people and experiments behind eight notable discoveries made by chance in the chemistry lab: synthetic dye, cellophane, polyethylene, safety glass, artificial sweeteners (saccharine, cyclamate and aspartame), Kevlar, and graphene.

  •   21st Century Chemists  

    This Chemistry Now original video series takes viewers into the research labs of nine 21st Century Chemists funded by the National Science Foundation, showcasing their work on today's “headline” challenges — cleaner alternative fuels; effective treatments for malaria, cancer and Alzheimer's — and their promising advances on a range of intriguing ideas: underwater adhesives based on mussel glue, new painkillers based on snail venom, artificial noses and organic semiconductors. We also outline the chemistry's “10 Big Questions” as selected by our content partner, Scientific American.

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