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Quick Reads about Chemistry
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NPR
2 min read
Science

Microscopic Cars Square Off In Big Race

This car race involved years of training, feats of engineering, high-profile sponsorships, competitors from around the world and a racetrack made of gold. But the high-octane competition, described as a cross between physics and motor-sports, is invisible to the naked eye. In fact, the track itself is only a fraction of the width of a human hair, and the cars themselves are each comprised of a single molecule. The Nanocar Race, which happened over the weekend at Le centre national de la recherché scientific in Toulouse, France, was billed as the "first-ever race of molecule-cars." It's meant t
Popular Science
1 min read
Science

What The Frack Is In Fracking Fluid?

Chris Ballasiotes These chemical cocktails are trade secrets, so it can be hard for scientists to gauge risk. Over 100 billion gallons—that’s how much fluid fracking wells inject into the U.S. each year. The high-pressure slurry cracks underlying shale, releasing oil and natural gas trapped inside. But fracking’s rise raises questions about water pollution. Although scientists have linked individual cases of contamination to fracking, a 2016 EPA report on its safety was inconclusive. Companies don’t have to disclose what is actually in the slurry. Like Coca-Cola’s formula, these chemical cockt
The Atlantic
3 min read
Science

The Deadly Explosion Behind America's Whipped-Cream Shortage

In August, a gas tanker exploded not far from a nylon factory in Cantonment, Florida. And this winter, just time in for the holiday season, the whole country is facing a sudden shortage of Reddi-wip. These two events are directly related, and their connection reveals the complicated mechanics of bringing sweet whipped dairy topping to your holiday pie. Reddi-wip’s key ingredient is neither sweet nor dairy but a gas: nitrous oxide, better known as laughing gas. Dentists use it to knock out their patients. Teenagers use it for whippets. And race-car engines use it for an extra boost, when nitrou