10 chemical facts that would impress your friends

In any odd situation talk about the science

If you try to get your friends to­geth­er at a par­ty and bom­bard them with amaz­ing sci­en­tif­ic facts, there’s a risk you’ll re­mem­ber this par­ty as the last one you were ever in­vit­ed to. But if you hap­pen to men­tion that the hy­dro­gen in our bod­ies is 13.5 bil­lion years old, you might just make a very strong im­pres­sion. We’ve put to­geth­er 10 facts which will help you amaze your friends (and your­self).

A car tire is one large mol­e­cule

Tires [Deposit Photos]

The rub­ber that tires are made of is a poly­mer. This is the name for sub­stances con­sist­ing of chains that are con­nect­ed in large macro-mol­e­cules. The sul­fur and sili­cic acid in the tire link the mol­e­cules of the poly­mer by lit­tle “bridges”. One large poly­mer mol­e­cule is formed, and the raw rub­ber mix­ture turns into elas­tic and durable rub­ber.

Mon­ey re­al­ly doesn’t smell



At any rate, metal­lic mon­ey doesn’t. The char­ac­ter­is­tic smell of coins is not the smell of met­al. It is pro­duced by volatile com­pounds which form from or­gan­ic sub­stances (for ex­am­ple, hu­man sweat) on con­tact with the coin. The met­al it­self sim­ply serves as the cat­a­lyst of this re­ac­tion.

Of all the met­als, only gold, ce­sium and cop­per do not have a sil­very shine


The gold of Scrooge Mc­Duck

Met­als shine be­cause they re­flect light rays from their sur­face, and do not let them through, like glass, and do not ab­sorb them like soot. A ray of sun can be imag­ined as a stream of el­e­men­tary par­ti­cles – pho­tons. Most el­e­men­tary met­als re­flect all the pho­tons that hit them even­ly, and the re­flect­ed light does not have col­ors.

In gold, ce­sium and cop­per atoms, the elec­trons ab­sorb the en­er­gy of pho­tons with long waves which cor­re­spond to the col­ors blue and pur­ple, and these met­als re­flect the re­main­ing red and yel­low part of the spec­trum. Gold has also been in­clud­ed in the Guin­ness Book of Records as the most plas­tic met­al. So if you roll a piece of gold into foil with a thick­ness of 0.002 mm, sun­light will be vis­i­ble through it. Al­though it will be a green­ish col­or.

Wa­ter ex­pands when it freezes

Ice in Greenland [Wikimedia]

Usu­al­ly when some­thing cools, it be­comes small­er. This also hap­pens with wa­ter, but to a cer­tain mo­ment. The wa­ter mol­e­cule con­sists of one atom of oxy­gen and two atoms of hy­dro­gen. As these atoms are bond­ed with each oth­er, the mol­e­cules in the crys­talline state need more space than in liq­uid state.

Ev­ery hy­dro­gen atom in your body is around 13.5 bil­lion years old

The Big Bang as imagined by animation artists [Deposit Photos]

Hy­dro­gen was the first chem­i­cal el­e­ment that ap­peared at the be­gin­ning of the uni­verse’s ex­is­tence. All the hy­dro­gen in the world has ex­ist­ed since that time, and new hy­dro­gen has not ap­peared. This means that the age of ev­ery atom of hy­dro­gen in the world, in­clud­ing those in the hu­man body, is around 13.5 bil­lion years old. A lit­tle lat­er, as a re­sult of nu­cle­ar syn­the­sis some hy­dro­gen atoms be­came atoms of he­li­um, car­bon and so on. But around 75% of the mass of the vis­i­ble uni­verse still con­sists of hy­dro­gen. He­li­um ac­counts for an­oth­er 25%, and all the oth­er re­main­ing el­e­ments for just 2%. But on Earth, the mass of hy­dro­gen and he­li­um put to­geth­er does not ex­ceed 1% of the to­tal el­e­ments.

Where does an al­co­hol so­lu­tion go?


Wa­ter so­lu­tion of ethyl al­co­hol

If you mix a liter of wa­ter in a liter of ethyl al­co­hol, you get around 1.9 liters of so­lu­tion. But don’t wor­ry! No one’s spilled any­thing. The vol­ume de­creas­es be­cause of the in­ter­pen­e­tra­tion of liq­uids. The al­co­hol mol­e­cules are larg­er than the wa­ter mol­e­cules, and the in­ter­molec­u­lar space in the al­co­hol is also com­par­a­tive­ly large. On mix­ing, some wa­ter mol­e­cules co­zi­ly ar­range them­selves among the al­co­hol mol­e­cules, and so the two liq­uids re­quire a lit­tle less space. But their to­tal weight re­mains the same as it did be­fore mix­ing.

Tech­ni­cal­ly, only sev­er­al vi­ta­mins from group B have the right to be called vi­ta­mins

Vitamins [Deposit Photos]

The word “vi­ta­min” comes from vita (life) and amine (a ni­troge­nous or­gan­ic com­pound). This word was first giv­en to a prepa­ra­tion which was used in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry to treat chick­ens suf­fer­ing from beriberi. For some time it was be­lieved that ev­ery vi­ta­min had to have a ni­tro­gen atom. Af­ter the dis­cov­ery of Vi­ta­min C, which does not con­tain ni­tro­gen, it be­came clear that this was not the case. Lat­er it was found that ni­tro­gen atoms are only con­tained in vi­ta­mins from group B. but the name had al­ready caught on. But even not all of these turned out to be amines. Nev­er­the­less, the name had al­ready caught on. Over time, or­der was es­tab­lished in the clas­si­fi­ca­tion of vi­ta­mins For ex­am­ple, the let­ter G van­ished, which some sci­en­tists had pre­vi­ous­ly giv­en to vi­ta­min B2, sim­i­lar in its chem­i­cal com­po­si­tion to oth­er vi­ta­mins from group B. And vi­ta­min F was the name er­ro­neous­ly giv­en to a group of sev­er­al es­sen­tial fat­ty acids. Now they have been de­mot­ed to “vi­ta­min-like”, and the let­ter F has van­ished from the list of vi­ta­mins.

Wa­ter can be­come sol­id at +20°C

Water [Deposit Photos]

Wa­ter turns sol­id at 20 de­grees, if it con­tains meth­ane. They must be mixed to­geth­er at high pres­sure. Then wa­ter and meth­ane some­times form gaseous hy­drate, which at a tem­per­a­ture of up to 20 de­grees re­sem­bles packed snow.

Safe­ty cush­ions are filled with poi­sonous sodi­um azide


Ex­per­i­ment with safe­ty cush­ion

Many safe­ty cush­ions con­tain tox­ic sodi­um azide (NaN3) – a salt of hy­dro­zoic acid. In an ac­ci­dent with a strong col­li­sion, sig­nals from data coun­ters light a mix­ture on the ba­sis of the poi­sonous salt. A re­ac­tion takes place with a large emis­sion of harm­less gaseous ni­tro­gen, which in­flates the cush­ion. The sodi­um that is formed as a sub­sidiary sub­stance is also dan­ger­ous, but in safe­ty cush­ions it is neu­tral­ized by potas­si­um ni­trate or sil­i­con com­pounds.

Some­times a postal ad­dress can be re­placed with the names of el­e­ments

His­to­ry knows just two cas­es when new­ly dis­cov­ered el­e­ments were named in hon­or of a liv­ing sci­en­tist. They are the 106th el­e­ment of Seaborgium, named af­ter the Amer­i­can chemist Glenn Seaborg, and the 118th el­e­ment of Oganes­son, named af­ter the Rus­sian nu­cle­ar physi­cist Yury Oganes­sian. Ad­di­tion­al­ly, only these two peo­ple could write their postal ad­dress­es with the names of chem­i­cal el­e­ments.

Glenn Seaborg [Rsc.org]

Seaborg (Sg, Seaborgium), Lawrence Berke­ley Na­tion­al Lab­o­ra­to­ry, (Lr, Lawren­ci­um), Berke­ley (Bk, Berke­li­um), state of Cal­i­for­nia (Cf, Cal­i­forni­um), Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca (Am, Ameri­ci­um)

Yury Oganessian [Elementy.ru]

Oganes­sian (Og, Oganes­son), Flerov lab­o­ra­to­ry (Fl, Flerovi­um), Dub­na (Db, Dub­ni­um), Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion (Ru, Ruthe­ni­um; Ruthe­nia is the Latin name for Rus­sia)