STEM

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.

Science & Technology

Antimony: the Element That Reinvents itself

The history of humankind follows the history of the exploitation and use of natural resources and, in particular, of metals and metalloids. However, not many chemical elements have been used in such a variety of applications as antimony has and, probably, none has end up by being as ubiquitious as water in our everyday life.

Science & Technology

A biochemical conundrum: Aliens, black sheep, and crown jewels

Beryllium is unique. Some regard it as highly toxic while others say that it tastes sweet in its inorganic salts. As a matter of fact, it is used in the tower of London and space faring aliens in the sci-fi movie “galaxy quest.” Good explanations of the toxicity of dusts containing Beryllium are still sought.

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