Author Archive | Sebastien Rochat

Hydrogen Generation and Storage with Formic Acid

Hydrogen occupies a central role in the field of renewable, green energies. It is however not a very convenient compound to work with, being highly flammable, gaseous above -253°C (at ambient pressure) – and therefore difficult to store and transport. Further, its energy density per volume is relatively low. Finding alternative ways to safely store […]

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Inject-and-solidify: new biomaterials for tissue restoration

Biocompatible polymers are avidely sought for owing to their frequent use in reconstructive sugery and as prostheses. One of the challenges is to make implants that are easy to inserate, minimizing scarring and recovery time. A team led by Prof. Jennifer Helisseeff at Johns Hopkins University recently presented a novel implant, that can be injected […]

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Neuroprotective Effects of Nicotine

Sixteenth-century Swiss physician, botanist, alchemist, and astrologer Paracelsus* is widely known for his famous observation that “All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; only the dose permits something not to be poisonous”, generally summarized as “The dose makes the poison”. No better illustration of the dual character of virtually any substance can be […]

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DNA-based chemical computer calculates square roots

DNA computing was first proposed in the mid-90s and uses chemical reactions to solve problems, using DNA strands as ‘bits’. The work recently published in Science by Lulu Qian and Erik Winfree from Caltech demonstrates the use of DNA for performing calculations (ie, finding the square roots of numbers up to 15). Made from 130 […]

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PhDs in questions

George Whitesides from Harvard University and John Deutch from MIT initiated the debate in a Comment published in the first 2011 issue of the journal Nature. In an issue mostly dedicated to chemistry (remember, 2011 is International Year of Chemistry), they advocate several changes chemical research in universities should undergo in order to “solve big […]

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Chemical elements in limited supply

During the second half of 2010 a term usually reserved to specialized audiences started to spread in mainstream media: the rare-earth elements. Although they are not so scarce as their name would suggest, increasing concerns about their availability in the near future were expressed, and a recent issue of Nature Materials featured several articles dedicated […]

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Chemical elements in short supply

During the second half of 2010 a term usually reserved to specialized audiences started to spread in mainstream media: the rare-earth elements. Although they are not so scarce as their name would suggest, increasing concerns about their availability in the near future were expressed, and a recent issue of Nature Materials featured several articles dedicated […]

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Scientists and the Media: must do better

At a time when public expenses are shrinking, scientists are under close scrutinity and must justify the money they spend. Researchers are therefore increasingly exposed to the media, and it seems appropriate to ask whether they are ready for that. Two recent examples tend to show that they are not. The first is the clumsy […]

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Geoengineering: a hard blow

In a former post I mentioned several ideas that had come forth as potential ways to deal with global warming. I had my doubts about some of these propositions, and these doubts were recently confirmed when I read an article in French newspaper Le Figaro. The article relates a meeting of dozens of geoengineering specialists […]

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EU Ban on Bisphenol A in Baby Bottles Next Year

Bisphenol A (BPA) is one of the world’s most widely manufactured chemicals and can be found virtually everywhere – it is present in many polymer plastics, food and drink containers, toys, computers, baby bottles, and medical equipment. BPA can easily leach from these products (e.g. in packaged food and drinks), and is therefore detectable in […]

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