Discover more from Periodycal – The Compound Interest Newsletter
Periodycal #15: Swimwear, avocados, and playing cards
Plus superconductor have-they-haven't-they and reasons not to drink coffee in a chemistry lab
Welcome to this month’s edition of the Periodycal newsletter! This month there’s a new graphic on the materials science of swimwear and how to keep it in top condition, a new look for the website, some updates to some older graphics, and more. Plus there’s the usual round-up of chemistry stories I’ve found interesting in the past few weeks, along with graphics from the archives that tie in with events for the coming month.
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Swimwear: Stopping fading and stretching
Cooling off in the pool hasn’t been something we’ve needed to do an awful lot here in the UK this summer. For those of you who’ve seen more swimming-pool-friendly weather, this latest edition of Periodic Graphics in C&EN looks at what swimsuits are made of, and how a little chemistry knowledge goes a long way when it comes to keeping them in good shape and stopping their materials fading and stretching.
Shiny new website
The website has been in need of a redesign for a good few years, ever since I somehow broke its previous WordPress theme. However, as I don’t count web design amongst my talents, I’d put it off for a while, but finally got around to doing something about it this summer. So, behold, the shiny new website!
The homepage is where you’ll see the biggest shift, where I’ve changed the layout to feature more of the graphics immediately on the homepage. However, there should be improvements to readability of both the graphics and the posts across the site, as well as fewer repeated images, which was previously an annoying issue on individual posts.
The infographics page also has improved navigability, which should make it easier for you to plumb the depths of the Ci archive and find the particular graphics you’re looking for.
I’m not claiming it to be a masterclass in website design (design is probably a bit strong, I’ll happily confess that all this amounts to is a few hours tweaking a premade WordPress theme). But I hope it makes the site more pleasant to look at! If you’ve got any suggestions that might be within my limited ability to implement, do let me know in the comments.
Avocados, lipstick and organic formulae
Along with the website redesign, I’ve been working on updating some older infographics, both to get them looking snazzier in the current graphic style, but also (in some cases) amending the information they contain. The following graphics have all seen updates:
Got a favourite graphic from the archives that you think could use a facelift? Let me know in the comments.
Chemistry playing cards
I made the designs for these playing cards several years ago, then promptly left them to languish while other projects took over. I’m thinking of resurrecting them and seeing if I can get them made into proper sets — primarily because I want a set, but I figure others might be interested, too. So, if you’d be keen on a set of these, let me know!
Upcoming chemistry tie-ins
Here’s a quick run-down of upcoming events or days and links to some relevant chemistry graphics from the archives:
August: National Dog Month – The chemistry of wet dog smell
3 August: National Watermelon Day – The chemistry of watermelon
4 August: International Beer Day – What gives beer its bitterness and flavour?
6 August: Alexander Fleming’s birthday – An overview of classes of antibiotics
8 August: International Cat Day – The chemistry of cats: allergies, catnip and urine
16 August: National Rum Day – The chemistry of rum
20 August: World Mosquito Day – The chemistry of insect repellents
27 August: National Petroleum Day – The chemistry of petrol and the tetraethyl lead story
30 August: National Beach Day – The compounds behind the scent of the sea
Chemistry news and features
Here’s the regular selection of chemistry news and features I’ve found interesting over the past few weeks:
Superconductor drama – Those of you still persevering with the site formerly known as Twitter will probably have seen some physicists getting all hot under the collar this week at the prospect of the discovery of a room-temperature superconductor. I’ll leave the explanation of the likelihood of the discovery being legit to those who know more about it than me, but there’ve been daily twists and turns, so if you’ve missed out on all of that you’re going to need this summary from Derek Lowe.
Reasons not to drink coffee in the lab – Those of you who are teaching and constantly having to remind students not to eat or drink in the lab might appreciate this one, the equal-parts fascinating and terrifying account of a UK PhD student who survived being poisoned by thallium.
A two-faced star – The interesting story of a star which has one side composed almost entirely of hydrogen, while the other side is composed almost entirely of helium.
That’s all for this issue! I’ll resume slightly more regular newsletters later in the year, but going to keep things monthly for the next few. I always enjoy reading your thoughts and suggestions, so don’t hesitate to drop into the comments if you’ve got feedback or ideas.
Thanks for reading,