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Sweet Potatoes and Some Sweet Chemistry 

11 Sep 2020

In November 2019, a study published in Scientific Reports showed a fascinating defense mechanism possessed by a certain variety of sweet potato named TN 57, which was known to be much more...

Scents and Sensibilities

7 Aug 2020

It is quite amazing how very small changes in an odourant’s chemical structure can radically change our perception of its scent. For example, octanol, a synthetic compound used in perfumes and...

A Myrrhy Christmas

18 Dec 2018

Both frankincense and myrrh are natural exudates of certain trees found in the Middle East. When the bark is injured, a sap containing a variety of natural fungicides and bactericides oozes out and...

Can Rain Extract Blood from a Stone?

20 Nov 2018

When the land has been dry and it starts to rain, there is a peculiar smell in the air, an earthy scent called petrichor. In the 1960s, two Australian scientists, Isabel Bear and Richard Thomas,...

Why can I taste saline and medications when they're inserted into my IV?

18 Sep 2018

Someone recently asked me if I had ever heard a patient complain that they could taste saline and medications when injected into their IV. Truth is, I had never heard of this before, but apparently...

Sperm whale perfume

10 May 2017

Sperm whales produce a black, smelly substance called ambergris which changes to a pleasant smell when exposed to air. It is rare and expensive but is used as a base in some perfumes. Ambergris...

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