Friday, December 9, 2011

Uniquely Carbon: Graphite and Diamond

Graphite (black) and Diamond (clear) are both pure Carbon.

The difference is in the structure or how the Carbon electrons are bonded together.

graphite structure

diamond structure

This makes Carbon really unique and interesting.

Chemical Name: Carbon
Chemical Symbol: C
Atomic Number: 6
Atomic Mass: 12

Carbon has 4 electron in it's out most shell (electronic configuration 1s2 2s2 2p2), it needs 4 more electrons to be stable (read my post on element stability).

The ability of Carbon to bond with itself and to create single, double and triple bonds is another of it's unique characteristic.

To explain all this is too much for a post, so I plan to make separate posts (I hope so) on it. The study of Carbon itself and its compounds is called Organic Chemistry.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Great Minds: Marie Curie

I’ve been planning to feature famous and influential Scientists here at Scientific Blabber. And now let me start with Marie Curie as we celebrate her 144th birthday (thanks for the heads up Google!).

Born Marie Sklodowska on November 7, 1867 in Warsaw, Poland. She studied Chemistry and Physics and planned to be a school teacher like her parents but when she married Pierre Curie decided to help her husband on the study of radioactivity.

The husband and wife tandem Marie and Pierre Curie discovered two radioactive element called Radium and Polonium.  

In 1903, Marie and Pierre Curie were awarded half the Nobel Prize in Physics. The citation was, "in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel." Henri Becquerel was awarded the other half for his discovery of spontaneous radioactivity.

In 1911 she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The citation by the Nobel Committee was, "in recognition of her services to the advancement of chemistry by the discovery of the elements radium and polonium, by the isolation of radium and the study of the nature and compounds of this remarkable element."


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

World Teachers Day

This is one profession that I really look up to. That’s because I experience it first hand and it’s not really for the faint-hearted.

I salute all the teachers for their love, dedication, patience, creativity and much more.

When I was in high school, I thought I was a lot better than some of my teachers so I was kind of a snub (a kinder word for a bitch). I never ever thought that one day I will also teach high school (chemistry). It’s like the Karma thing. I like teaching but I guess it’s not my calling. I am like a rotten tomato compared to those dedicated teachers I met and worked with. I don’t have the patience for one and maybe lacking on the others. So I decided to quit and return to the corporate world.

Happy Teachers Day to my favorite cousin, aunt and uncle, friends, former teachers and to all teachers out there! So proud of you.


I was reminded that it was Teacher’s Day today when my former students greeted me on FB, they are so cute!

Monday, October 3, 2011

All About Rare Earth Metals

I am curious too, so I made some research and end up with these from mnn – mother nature network.

"Rare earth" metals aren't as rare as they sound — in fact, you're probably using some right now. They're key to a variety of everyday devices, from tablet computers and TVs to hybrid cars and wind turbines, so it may be encouraging to know several kinds are actually common. Cerium, for example, is the 25th most abundant element on Earth.

So why are they called "rare" earths? The name alludes to their elusive nature, since the 17 elements rarely exist in pure form. Instead, they mix diffusely with other minerals underground, making them costly to extract.

And, unfortunately, that isn't their only drawback. Mining and refining rare earths makes an environmental mess, leading most countries to neglect their own reserves, even as demand soars. China has been the main exception since the early 1990s, dominating global trade with its willingness to intensively mine rare earths — and to deal with their acidic, radioactive byproducts. That's why the U.S., despite large deposits of its own, still gets 92 percent of its rare earths from China.

Rare earths roster
Here's a closer look at some of the ways each rare earth element is used:

Scandium: Added to mercury vapor lamps to make their light look more like sunlight. Also used in certain types of athletic equipment — including aluminum baseball bats, bicycle frames and lacrosse sticks — as well as fuel cells.

Yttrium: Produces color in many TV picture tubes. Also conducts microwaves and acoustic energy, simulates diamond gemstones, and strengthens ceramics, glass, aluminum alloys and magnesium alloys, among other uses.

Lanthanum: One of several rare earths used to make carbon arc lamps, which the film and TV industry use for studio and projector lights. Also found in batteries, cigarette-lighter flints and specialized types of glass, like camera lenses.

Cerium: The most widespread of all rare earth metals. Used in catalytic converters and diesel fuels to reduce vehicles' carbon monoxide emissions. Also used in carbon arc lights, lighter flints, glass polishers and self-cleaning ovens.

Praseodymium: Primarily used as an alloying agent with magnesium to make high-strength metals for aircraft engines. Also may be used as a signal amplifier in fiber-optic cables, and to create the hard glass of welder's goggles.

Neodymium: Mainly used to make powerful neodymium magnets for computer hard disks, wind turbines, hybrid cars, earbud headphones and microphones. Also used to color glass and to make lighter flints and welder's goggles.

Promethium: Does not occur naturally on Earth; must be artificially produced via uranium fission. Added to some kinds of luminous paint and nuclear-powered microbatteries, with potential use in portable X-ray devices.

Samarium: Mixed with cobalt to create a permanent magnet with the highest demagnetization resistance of any known material. Crucial for building "smart" missiles; also used in carbon arc lamps, lighter flints and some types of glass.

Europium: The most reactive of all rare earth metals. Used for decades as a red phosphor in TV sets — and more recently in computer monitors, fluorescent lamps and some types of lasers — but otherwise has few commercial applications.

Gadolinium: Used in some control rods at nuclear power plants. Also used in medical applications such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and industrially to improve the workability of iron, chromium and various other metals.

Terbium: Used in some solid-state technology, from advanced sonar systems to small electronic sensors, as well as fuel cells designed to operate at high temperatures. Also produces laser light and green phosphors in TV tubes.

Dysprosium: Used in some control rods at nuclear power plants. Also used in certain kinds of lasers, high-intensity lighting, and to raise the coercivity of high-powered permanent magnets, such as those found in hybrid vehicles.

Holmium: Has the highest magnetic strength of any known element, making it useful in industrial magnets as well as some nuclear control rods. Also used in solid-state lasers and to help color cubic zirconia and certain types of glass.

Erbium: Used as a photographic filter and as a signal amplifier (aka "doping agent") in fiber-optic cables. Also used in some nuclear control rods, metallic alloys, and to color specialized glass and porcelain in sunglasses and cheap jewelry.

Thulium: The rarest of all naturally occurring rare earth metals. Has few commercial applications, although it is used in some surgical lasers. After being exposed to radiation in nuclear reactors, it's also used in portable X-ray technology.

Ytterbium: Used in some portable X-ray devices, but otherwise has limited commercial uses. Among its specialty applications, it's used in certain types of lasers, stress gauges for earthquakes, and as a doping agent in fiber-optic cables.

Lutetium: Mainly restricted to specialty uses, such as calculating the age of meteorites or performing positron emission tomography (PET) scans. Has also been used as a catalyst for the process of "cracking" petroleum products at oil refineries.

Nice to meet you Rare Earth Metals! But I guess I'll just stick to the common metals as I have difficulty in memorizing you guys.

What we just have to remember is even though these rare earth metals are not that rare but continuous use would cause depletion of natural resources. So the key here is to Reduce our needs for it, Reuse as much as possible and Recycle everything!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

2011 International Year for Chemistry

And I just learned about it too. Thanks to our office newsletter which I seldom read.

I have this blog to share my love for Science particularly on Chemistry. And to share that it is also simple, interesting and fun. I can’t get enough of the vast knowledge Science has to offer. With that I am always on the look-out for new things to learn. We must instill that passion to our kids and youngsters.

I’ll share some items on the American Chemistry Society (ACS) booklet called “Celebrating Chemistry”.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Science: Tree of Knowledge

When we say branches, the first thing in our mind is a tree. From one trunk sprouts branches, twigs then leaves.

So when we say Science it is one big tree of knowledge with the different fields as its branches.

Here I listed the major branches or divisions of Science as Pure and Applied Sciences, further comes other smaller branches or twigs like Physical Science, Life Science, etc. Down comes the leaves with Physics, Chemistry, Botany and the like.

Pure Sciences

1. Physical Science

2. Life Science

3. Earth Science

Applied Sciences

1. Mathematical Science

2. Social Sciences
-Political Science

3. Engineering
-Chemical Engineering
-Mechanical Engineering
-Electrical Engineering

I'll discuss those different Sciences (or maybe discussed some already) along the way.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Occupational Health and Safety

This is my entry to Techie She Lucky Blogger Weekly Giveaway Week 12. This week’s prize is $10 paypal cash credit from Sir Rob of Be a LifeSaver of Goodness.

Techie She: Blogging Made Easy

The topic on Safety in the Workplace is very important. Nowadays, companies are giving emphasis on the Occupational Health and Safety of the employees and the community. But companies also has business advantages on doing this, some requires it before any transaction and it gives the company itself added value to their brand or name. So it’s a win-win situation.

Why am I taking about this, well I am not the assigned Safety Officer of our company but I am assigned to manage and update our certification to OHSAS 18001:2007 standards (Occupational Health and Safety Management System). That is aside from ISO 9001:2008 (Quality Management System) and ISO 14001:2004 (Environmental Management System). I am more on the documentation rather than on the implementation.

WARNING: From here on, it might get a little boring. Read at your own risk.

What is OHSAS 18001:2007? It is the standard for managing Occupational Health and Safety of an organization. While the standard specifies the requirements such as documentation and other activities, we need a third party assessor/ auditor to certificate us to the standard. And let me tell you it is not just a simple auditing, so being certified is a big thing.

Sample of the requirements is assessing the hazards and risks associated for a particular area. We usually call it HIRA or Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment, here we identify the likelihood and severity of a given activity or area and propose actions to lower the risk.

Area: Office
Activity: Use of Computers
Hazard: Eye Strain
Risk: Eye Problem
Likelihood: 4 (scoring 1 to 5, since use of computer usually takes most of the time)
Severity: 2 (scoring 1 to 5, impact is not that severe)
Control Measures: Take breaks every 2 hours, use antiglare glasses or screen protector.

This is a simple and common sample. Activity varies from one company to another depending on the nature, of course.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Moon and Ramadan

Ramadan Kareem!

And to understand why is I am fussing about it while I’m not a Muslim, please read my post Ramadan Mubarak on my other blog. It’s tiring to repeat everything.

Did you know that start and end of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar is based on the moon sighting? Now you know. It starts with the new moon and ends after a complete cycle.

The traditional method, mentioned in the Qur'an and followed by the Prophet Muhammad, is to look to the sky and visibly sight the slight crescent moon (hilal) that marks the beginning of the month. If one sees the hilal at night, the next day is the first day of Ramadan and thus the first day of fasting. At the end of the month, when the community sights the hilal again, the Festival of Fast-Breaking ('Eid al-Fitr) begins.

Aside from that, I am really fascinated with the Moon and it’s many phases. You have the new moon, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full moon, waning gibbous, third quarter and waning crescent (in order of appearance, and in the picture, counterclockwise).

The moon orbits the earth approximately 28 days, so the lunar calendar is shorter than our usual calendar. And the differences in the phases depends on the relative position it has compared with the earth and sun.

And we have the solar and lunar eclipse.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes between the Moon and the Sun, and the Earth's shadow obscures the moon or a portion of it. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, blocking all or a portion of the Sun.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hazard Identification

Read the label, make it a habit!

Whether you’re buying foods, medicine, insecticide, chemicals – it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

For foods and medicine be wary of the expiration dates, and if you’re health conscious also the sugars, carbs, salt in it, etc

For chemicals, look for the hazard label, code, logo or picture. It will give you the proper warning on how to use, handle, dispose, etc.

How can we apply these knowledge?

Pls read the email I received a few days ago...


This is a Home Safety incident that happened on 13th May 2011 in Pune, India ..
A housewife died due to burns sustained in the kitchen. Her husband too hospitalized for injury/burn while trying to rescue her.
What happened:
The gas stove was on, cooking under process. The housewife observed some cockroaches near the sink and grabbed a can of insect repellent and sprayed it near the gas stove, which was on/burning.
As a result, an explosion happened and in no time the housewife was covered in flames, sustained 65% burns. Her husband rushed in, tried to extinguish the flames and his clothes too caught fire. The husband is still being hospitalized in the burns ward and still unaware that his wife has succumbed, dead on arrival.
Let us Learn:
Insect repellent and other pressurized cans contain Flammable Material.
Did the poor lady realise the hazard involved? Apparently not!

Monday, June 13, 2011


It’s not a misspell, it is indeed Density and not Destiny because you are on my Science blog eh.

Okay, Density is defined as the mass per unit volume.

There was a running question (or joke - but not really funny), which is heavier 1 Kg of cotton or 1Kg of nail?

The obvious answer is- it both has the same weight.

But the correct question should be which is more dense?

And the correct answer is the nail.


Because although they have the same weight or mass (which is 1 Kg), the volume occupied by the cotton is more than the volume of the nail.

So let’s assume, the volume of cotton is 2 cm3 and nail is 0.5 cm3, the density of cotton and nail can be computed using the formula:

Density = mass/ volume

Density of cotton = 1 Kg/ 2 cm3 = 0.5 Kg/cm3

Density of nail = 1 Kg/ 0.5 cm3 = 2.0 Kg/cm3

Therefore, nail is more dense than cotton.

But I’ll give you a shorter way to determine which is more or which is less without the computation perse.

If you will submerge it with water, which one will sink and which one will float?

Of course the nail will sink and the cotton will float.

There goes the same answer, the nail is more dense while the cotton is less dense.


Because density of water is always 1 and used as THE standard.

So things (liquid or solid) with density more than 1 will sink,

While things (liquid or solid) with density less than 1 will float.

I always encourage people even myself to ask, because that’s how you learn things.



And while we’re on the topic, some use the word ‘dense’ to describe persons who cannot grasp things (like if your crush doesn’t understand your pa-cute ways)…

So when people call you dense don’t be happy about it because it means you’re less than 1 (the standard).



It’s been a whole year since my last post…

my apologies to my blog and my readers (if any)…