Science & Technology

Zinc: the galvanizing chameleon

Jules Raulin, a student of Louis Pasteur, made a seminal discovery on zinc’s essential role in a microorganism’s growth. 150 years later, growing questions about this integral and essential element revolve around its purpose for our everyday lives.

Science & Technology

Fluorine: The most reactive and indispensable element in our daily lives

Fluorine (atomic symbol: F) is the 13th most common element in the earth crust and the lightest member of the halogen group, which is also called group 17 in the Periodic System of Elements. Under standard conditions, fluorine is a diatomic gas with a shade of yellow colour. It exhibits a distinct odour significantly different from that of the other halogens; chlorine (Cl), bromine (Br) and iodine (I).

Science & Technology

Chromium: Are we red-green blind regarding its biological chemistry?

The legendary traffic lights in Berlin, the “Ampelmännchen”, symbolise the opposite biological functions of chromium compounds in two major oxidation states: one for health and the other for disease. In other words, green stands for “go and safe”, red stands for “stop and danger”.

Science & Technology

The Periodic Table and the Actinides

Most people know that uranium is radioactive, but few would think of taking a Geiger Counter with them when antique-hunting. A hundred years ago, uranium oxide was widely used in making decorative glass objects. Their characteristic greenish-yellow colour gave them the name of ‘Vaseline glass’, though their radioactivity means that uranium is not used in glass-making these days. Uranium is also used in making the shells fired by Army tanks, as it is extremely dense and also tends to ignite on impact.

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