Archive for the ‘Chemistry’ category

FOOF

2010.04.01

A.k.a. dioxygen difluoride, and apparently evocative of its massively understated interaction with every other existing substance.

This stuff was first prepared in Germany in 1932 by Ruff and Menzel, who must have been likely lads indeed, because it’s not like people didn’t respect fluorine back then. No, elemental fluorine has commanded respect since well before anyone managed to isolate it, a process that took a good fifty years to work out in the 1800s. (The list of people who were blown up or poisoned while trying to do so is impressive). And that’s at room temperature. At seven hundred freaking degrees, fluorine starts to dissociate into monoatomic radicals, thereby losing its gentle and forgiving nature. But that’s how you get it to react with oxygen to make a product that’s worse in pretty much every way.

More at Things I Won’t Work With: Dioxygen Difluoride.

Move over, dihydrogen monoxide.

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Why?

2009.02.09

A Dialogue with Sarah, aged 3: in which it is shown that if your dad is a chemistry professor, asking “why” can be dangerous.

DAD: Why does the shower get me clean?

SARAH: Yes.

DAD: Because the water washes the dirt away when I use soap.

SARAH: Why?

[…]

DAD: Why do the molecules have a hydrophilic head and a hydrophobic tail?

SARAH: Yes.

DAD: Because the C-O bonds in the head are highly polar, and the C-H bonds in the tail are effectively non-polar.

SARAH: Why?

DAD: Because while carbon and hydrogen have almost the same electronegativity, oxygen is far more electronegative, thereby polarizing the C-O bonds.

[…]