July 3, 2020
Frances Addison on the aromatic compound found in both buttered popcorn and the bearcat’s scent glands, and responsible for the distinctive smell of both
June 26, 2020
News that this cheap, ubiquitous steroid drug may reduce deaths in Covid-19 cases has been greeted with cautious optimism. Ben Valsler looks at the history of dexamethasone and the promising Recovery trial results.
June 19, 2020
Mike Freemantle on the art, history and science of this delicate, translucent ceramic material
June 12, 2020
Brian Clegg introduces the humble mineral that delights both astronomers and archaeologists
June 5, 2020
Mike Freemantle introduces the peptic ulcer treatment cimetidine, which – as Tagamet – became the first 'blockbuster' drug
May 29, 2020
The World Health Organisation hope to eradicate human African trypanosomiasis, better known as sleeping sickness, within our lifetimes. Jamie Durrani looks at a drug that may make it possible.
May 22, 2020
Georgia Mills investigates the psychoactive found in ayahuasca that may mirror near-death experiences
May 15, 2020
Katrina Krämer investigates how industrial-strength bleach became promoted as 'miracle mineral supplement' – a supposed 'cure' for autism, cancer and even Covid-19.
May 8, 2020
Brian Clegg discovers the link between olive oil, dandruff and stained glass windows.
May 1, 2020
An immune-modulating compound used to reduce the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and now showing potential against coronaviruses, interferon beta is the last of the WHO's Covid-19 Solidarity trial candidates to get the Chemistry in its element treatment.
April 24, 2020
The unexplained appearance and dramatic spread of a new form of HIV drug ritonavir hurt patients and cost its makers almost $250 million. Alexander Whiteside on the chemical phenomenon that links Irving Langmuir, H G Wells and Kurt Vonnegut.
April 17, 2020
Ben Valsler explains how a drug that prevents HIV from donning its protective 'coat' now makes up one arm of the World Health Organisation's Covid-19 trial
April 3, 2020
Will new clinical trials for Covid-19 give remdesivir a second chance?Ben Valsler introduces the broad-spectrum antiviral that didn't quite make it as the Ebola drug it was originally planned to be.
March 27, 2020
Old drugs sometimes find their way back into the news. The Covid-19 pandemic – and some very high profile backing – has led to malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine hitting the headlines worldwide. Ben Valsler explores both the history and the hype.
March 20, 2020
Brian Clegg on the popular over-the-counter painkiller, developed by a high-street pharmacy chain
March 13, 2020
Catherine Hodges explores the chemical solutions to thinning hair and patchy beards, examining the popularity of minoxidil and the cautionary tale of finasteride
March 6, 2020
The pesticide that keeps pets free of pests, but may have also been responsible for the devastating collapse of bee colonies. With Harriet Brewerton.
February 28, 2020
Rotund rodents revolutionised our understanding of the biological role of fat. Now, as Katrina Krämer discovers, the hormones created by fats could redefine obesity.
February 21, 2020
Ben Valsler on vitamin K – the blood clotting factor that is likely to be the first supplement you ever receive
February 14, 2020
Brian Clegg on the enzymes make life a little sweeter by breaking down starch into sugars, helping to make bread and beer
February 7, 2020
Georgia Mills on a compound that explodes from a beetle's bum, and has a controversial role in skin depigmentation
January 31, 2020
This week marks the 20th anniversary of the Baia Mare disaster, when toxic sodium cyanide spilled from a gold processing plant led to ecological damage on a huge scale. Mike Freemantle tells the tragic tale and explores the poison's place in precious metal processing.
January 24, 2020
Once thought of as an interesting – but useless – turpentine derivative, this oddly-named acid became the precursor to one of the world's most widely used plastics
January 17, 2020
From the artist’s brush to distinctive blue bottles, cobalt oxide has been giving us the ‘chemically and artistically perfect’ blues for centuries
January 10, 2020
If you’re trying out a vegan diet, you’re likely to be told to make sure you get enough vitamin B12. Ben Valsler asks what B12 does, where we get it from, and how can we be sure we’re getting enough?
December 20, 2019
To celebrate 2019 – the International Year of the Periodic Table – we're joined by Helen Arney and the Waterbeach Brass Band with an updated version of Tom Lehrer's elements song. See the video, featuring contributions from chemists around the world, here: Happy New Year!
December 13, 2019
After promising results treating ill pets, some researchers think iminosugars could become treatments for infection and even cancer. Mike Freemantle explores the buzz about iminohoney.
December 6, 2019
Frances Addison examines how our quest to control and manage pain has led to a modern medical crisis, as opioids oxycodone and hydrocodone are among the most abused prescription medications in the US
November 29, 2019
Ben Valsler tackles 'zombie facts' and the tenuous connection between tryptophan in turkey and your post-Thanksgiving dinner doze
November 22, 2019
Brian Clegg introduces the class of materials where the holes are more important than the whole – the super-porous zeolites
November 15, 2019
It helps prevent garlic plants from marauding insects and should have prevented the Hindenburg disaster – Mike Freemantle on allicin and the smell of freshly crushed garlic
November 8, 2019
Louise Crane explains how a series of happy accidents led to the discovery of this rose-scented compound, found in rose oil, beer, apple pie and Kentucky bourbon.
November 1, 2019
Brian Clegg introduces gallium arsenide – the supercar of the semiconductor scene
October 25, 2019
Georgia Mills introduces the malleable mixture of gold and silver that minted some of the world's oldest coins
October 18, 2019
Ben Valsler introduces the oxygen sensors that help life react to changing conditions, and were key to the 2019 Nobel prize in physiology or medicine
October 11, 2019
Enna Guadalupe investigates the toxin found in reef fish that leads to food poisoning so bad it can cause life-long symptoms.
October 4, 2019
How a Brazilian scientist's knowledge of viper venom led to the discovery of a whole class of medication for high blood pressure. With Mike Freemantle.
September 27, 2019
Louise Crane investigates a jasmine-derived synthetic scent with supposed sex appeal
September 20, 2019
Georgia Mills examines a controversial killer: Sodium fluoroacetate or 1080
September 13, 2019
Sold as a 'sports supplement', methylhexaneamine – or DMAA – is implicated in the deaths of otherwise fit & healthy people. Enna Guadalupe investigates.
September 6, 2019
Katrina Krämer investigates a marine toxin that drives animals crazy and might have inspired one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous films
August 30, 2019
Mike Freemantle revisits battlefield surgery to investigate boric acid, a key part of Dakin's antiseptic solution used extensively in the first world war
August 22, 2019
Patrick Hughes delves into the molecule at the centre of a decades-old cancer treatment conspiracy theory
August 16, 2019
Georgia Mills tackles the feel-good neurotransmitter and hormone behind thrill seeking, addiction and mobile gaming
August 9, 2019
Mike Freemantle finds the connection between Land of Hope and Glory and the noxious, corrosive, flammable gas that stinks of rotten eggs
August 2, 2019
One doctor's battle with alcoholism and self-experimentation with baclofen led to a rush of people desperate to try the drug to curb their addictions. But are we simply replacing one problem with another, asks Enna Guadalupe
July 26, 2019
Microplastics, including polypropylene, are present in our oceans, on our beaches and even in bottled water. Ian Robertson from PerkinElmer investigates the scale and some solutions
July 19, 2019
Lay back in the chair and say 'Ahh', as Mike Freemantle introduces zinc polycarboxylate dental cement
July 12, 2019
The versatile gemstones that give scientists insights into the chemistry of the early Earth, introduced by Brian Clegg
July 5, 2019
Chemistry’s tastiest bonds for an explosive anaesthetic that was as useful as it was dangerous
June 28, 2019
Ben Valsler introduces a class of hallucinogenic phenethylamines, explored by the 'godfather of psychedelics' Alexander Shulgin and sadly implicated in a tragedy at a 2017 music festival
June 21, 2019
The first drug approved in the US to treat Aids required a completely new approach to clinical trials – Frances Addison explores the history of azidothymidine
June 14, 2019
How the compound that ushered in a photographic revolution has taken to the skies to try to control the weather
June 7, 2019
Katrina Krämer investigates how one of the smallest small-molecule drugs around saved Jeanna Giese's life
May 31, 2019
Kat Arney investigates a potent chemical that might explain the brain-bending powers of bacteria
May 24, 2019
Mike Freemantle introduces amber – the valuable organic gemstone that invests unwary insects in a durable tomb
May 17, 2019
Brian Clegg examines the duality that makes beryllium oxide so valuable to the electronics industry
May 10, 2019
Jamie Durrani diverts his attention to the rise of Ritalin, a drug first identified as a way of improving tennis performance
May 3, 2019
Frances Addison takes a look at the discovery that brought horseshoe crabs to the heart of the pharmaceutical industry
April 26, 2019
Kit Chapman investigates the drug that has been one of the top five prescription medications in the UK every year for the last two decades
April 19, 2019
Inspired by a mention of arrowroot in Jane Austen's Emma, Mike Freemantle investigates how subtle differences in composition mean starch can be resistant dietary fibre or easily-digested nourishment.
April 12, 2019
How an early synthetic dye chemical came to play a role in a mysterious disease outbreak in 1980s Spain
April 5, 2019
Coating your naked body with powdered magnesium silicate may sound strange, but it's an important part of many bathtime rituals
March 29, 2019
Mike Freemantle discovers sea buckthorns, also called 'beauty berries' because of their high concentration of tocopherols and tocotrienols, collectively known as vitamin E.
March 22, 2019
If you've ever been unlucky enough to experience 'corked' wine, then 2,4,6-trichloroanisole, or TCA was likely the chemical culprit
March 15, 2019
Kat Arney unearths the story of a truly international effort to develop new drugs for cancer, and the female researcher whose key role went overlooked
March 8, 2019
Kit Chapman on the simple polymer that preserves and protects ancient artifacts, and saved a historical Swedish shipwreck from complete collapse
March 1, 2019
Mike Freemantle on the iron compound that has been turning oak gall extract into indelible ink for centuries, but is now eating though our ancient manuscripts and musical scores
February 22, 2019
The mysterious enzyme that can beat the world’s biggest chemical process when it comes to breaking the dinitrogen triple bond
February 15, 2019
A brilliant rich blue rock, prized in antiquity as a gemstone and a prominent pigment, lazurite is the basis of lapis lazuli, the original ultramarine paint and – as Brian Clegg finds – it even adorns Tutankhamun's death mask.
February 8, 2019
Cases of sleeping sickness – human African trypanosomiasis – are in decline, dropping 86% in Africa between 2000 and 2014. Gege Li explores the role that this toxic, arsenic-based medication has to play.
February 1, 2019
Many consume cod liver oil due to 'a vague sense we should be taking them for something' – but what to the omega-3 fatty acids actually do?
January 25, 2019
It made Robert Bunsen seriously ill, Michael Faraday thought it 'barbaric' to use in battle and even Fritz Haber – the 'father of chemical warfare' – abandoned it after a fatal accident in his lab. This week, Mike Freemantle tells the story of tetramethyldiarsine, otherwise known as cacodyl.
January 18, 2019
Kit Chapman takes us back to the 1904 Olympics in St Louis, via the bronze age and ancient Greece
January 11, 2019
Louise Crane introduces the antioxidant that led to exaggerated claims that 'whisky helps fight cancer'
December 17, 2018
The spice that gives your Christmas eggnog its distinctive taste and aroma is also a toxic narcotic that played an important role in international history. Florence Schechter shares the history of myristicin – the active ingredient in nutmeg
December 7, 2018
Post-nuclear steel is a little bit radioactive, so for some specialist jobs we need to find a source of steel from before the bomb
November 30, 2018
The compounds that put the 'tin' in tin cans and help you to reflect on your appearance
November 23, 2018
Kat Arney’s investigation of the pungent chemical in onions is enough to bring tears to your eyes
November 16, 2018
Epoxies – including hard-wearing resins and strong adhesives – can be found almost everywhere, from your household white goods to the Large Hadron Collider. And the aroma of these compounds cemented their place in Brian Clegg's childhood memories.
November 9, 2018
How one footballer's climate concerns led to the creation of a green chemistry company: Mike Freemantle discovers the story of Mathieu Flamini, GFBiochemicals and levulinic acid.
November 2, 2018
Florence Schechter discovers how a seemingly healthy grapefruit-based breakfast could disrupt your daily drugs
October 26, 2018
Kat Arney gets to the bottom of the story of phenolphthalein – a chemical with two very different uses. If you've measured pH in a classroom or had some trouble in the bathroom, you may have met this compound before.
October 19, 2018
A biologically active compound from the biblical balm of Gilead, said to ‘heal the sin-sick soul’
October 12, 2018
Gege Li on the compound formerly known by the no-nonsense name 'very fast death factor'
October 5, 2018
Florence Schechter introduces an ancient, but effective, treatment for painful attacks of gout
September 28, 2018
What links blue jeans to ancient British warriors? Mike Freemantle discovers the blue dye with a colourful history
September 21, 2018
The latest in an alarming trend of novel psychoactive substances being mis-sold at festivals as traditional street drugs, putting users at risk
September 14, 2018
As hayfever season comes to a close, Katrina Krämer examines antihistamines. From calming down a hyperactive immune system to increasing cognitive abilities, these small molecules have a big impact.
September 7, 2018
Kat Arney finds out about the 'toxic caterpillar' chemical that will make your skin crawl
August 31, 2018
Michael Freemantle introduces a tear gas used by the British army in the first world war, picked, in part, because of our access to seaweed
August 24, 2018
Brian Clegg on the almond flavour compound that gives your taste buds a treat and may help rescue survivors from a disaster
August 17, 2018
How the ‘world’s most wonderful mineral’ became one of the world’s biggest health hazards
August 10, 2018
Kat Arney investigates the chemicals responsible for giving bruises their hue and colouring your poo
August 2, 2018
Katrina Krämer examines the overdose antidote that has saved tens of thousands of lives
July 27, 2018
A 1960s breakthrough in pain relief that now fuels the opioid crisis
July 20, 2018
How a waxy mixture from a sheep's fleece helped create a global fashion brand
July 13, 2018
Ben Valsler with the story of Charlotte Figi, Dravet syndrome and the cannabis compound controlling her condition.
July 5, 2018
Brian Clegg on a compound that keeps us well fed and looking radiant
June 28, 2018
Katrina Krämer asks if an essential blood-thinning medicine ended Joseph Stalin’s 30-year rule over the Soviet Union
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