SciComm Saturdays Publication

Light as Plastic, Stronger than Steel

Bulletproof? Waterproof? It sounds like the new armor for another sci-fi movie. Well, plastic just got an upgrade! But this is not ordinary as it would advance our technology on electronic devices, building materials, and even coating our vehicles. The new material, called 2DPA-1, is a two-dimensional polymer that self-assembles into sheets and forms a film that can cover anything dipped in it. This polymer can also be easily mass-produced by simply increasing the materials used at the beginning (1). This might be a buzzer-beater for all-time graphene, another 2D material.

The Science Behind Dalgona Candy

Ever wondered about the science behind the infamous dalgona candy in Netflix’s hit show Squid Game? Dalgona is one of the cheapest yet nostalgic treats in South Korea, which was first introduced after the Korean War. It was primarily manufactured using glucose and sodium bicarbonate; however, because of how luxurious glucose used to be and the eventual industrialization of sugar production, its ingredients list settled into what we know today, which is a combination of refined sugar, which is primarily made up of sucrose (1), and baking soda (2).

CRISPR CAS9

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Emanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna for their work on the development of CRISPR, a novel genome editing technology. Using CRISPR, scientists are able to make very precise modifications to genetic material by cutting or altering a specific part of a sequence (1).

Hazards of Ammonia

Ammonia Refrigeration: Chills and Spills

During the first week of February, ammonia from an ice plant in Navotas City was reported to have leaked out causing two deaths and placing over 2000 families at risk (1). With investigations on the cause of the leak still ongoing, it remains that proper maintenance and management are critical to ensure safety and efficiency of any cold storage facility.

A Path to Solar Illumination

With the increased impact of man-made climate change caused by CO2 emissions, people are turning away from fossil fuel-based power to renewable energy. Photovoltaics (also known as solar cells) operate using the photoelectric effect. This is a process wherein the absorption of light knocks out an electron in the material to generate electricity (1-5). The photovoltaic effect was proved by Albert Einstein and garnered him the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics (6). It is one of the best-known sources of renewable energy worldwide and is constantly being improved.

Valentine’s Bling

Jewelry is a great way to complete an OOTD. What is fashion trendy at the moment matters. New metals and alloys appeared however three jewelry metals are persistent and remained to be popular in modern jewelry, namely gold, silver and platinum.

Sustainable Christmas

The waste we produce on normal uneventful days is tremendous enough, but this increases even more during Christmas. In 2017, it was estimated that the per capita waste generation during Christmas season would increase from 0.7 kilo to 1.2 kilos in Metro Manila alone (1). If this says anything, it’s that there is a need for a sustainable Christmas.

Medicinal Plants

Medicinal plants have been a part of traditional Philippine medicine for centuries. Of the dozens of plants most commonly utilized in folk healing, the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) has endorsed 10 of these based on studies that have validated their efficacy and safety. Here are 3 of those 10 medicinal plants and their uses (1, 2).

The Smell of Death

The day of the dead has finally arrived. While you are visiting the graves of your loved ones, did you know that human decomposition undergoes four phases as soon as the eyes cloud over?

How Addiction Alters the Brain

With all the stress, pressure, responsibilities, and problems that students have to deal with in their personal lives, social relationships, and academic and org requirements, it’s easy to feel burnt out. It’s natural to want to escape from the chaotic reality of having to balance all the aspects of one’s life with seemingly so little time—to want immediate albeit temporary and destructive pleasure amidst the pressure of having to accomplish everything in a finite period of time.

Poliovirus

Breast cancer is the most commonly prevalent cancer among women and the second most common cancer overall wherein over two million new cases emerged in 2018 (1). It grows when abnormal cells in the breast start to accumulate and form a tumor (2). Yet, many people still do not know about it and there are usually no signs of breast cancer in the early stages. It is then vital to spread awareness about early detection and prevention of the disease. In addition, numerous studies have found that breastfeeding is not only good for babies but can also be a way to prevent and lower breast cancer risk.

You’re Fired! Off with the flames!

In celebration of Fire Awareness and Prevention Month, let’s look into the chemistry of the fire extinguisher–the most helpful tool in putting out fires. Fire extinguishers are usually classified according to the nature of the fire being put out. Class A fires are those caused by common combustible items like wood, paper, and cloth. Combustible liquids such as gasoline and petroleum constitute Class B fires. Electrical fires fall under Class C fires. Combustible metals such as magnesium, titanium, and lithium cause Class D fires. Class K involves cooking oil and grease fires.

Floras Old As Time

Gifts have become a more favorable option over flowers in the Philippines during Valentine’s Day — the latter only rank fourth, losing to clothes (thanks, Lazada!), chocolates, and perfumes (1). And part to blame is the prices of roses skyrocketing to 500% the usual right around the occasion (2). Still, for some, there remains this feel of royalty when one receives flowers on Valentine’s. And so to these romantics, in this economy, how do you preserve for as long as possible something that is flawed and naturally programmed to die? Here are some chemistry-backed tips on how to save your lo–, uh, Valentine’s flowers!

Get That RRL Done

Reading journals effectively is an invaluable skill that is rarely communicated. Mainly, it helps to identify your research purpose first. Other than that, what makes for an efficient literature search?

Pain, Pain, Go Away

Ever had the irritating feeling of having to finish a paper, with a deadline quickly approaching, despite that pounding headache?

Asymmetric Organocatalysis

With the increasing demand for medicine today, it is important that the production process of pharmaceuticals remains efficient. However, efficiency does not always come easily. When building the necessary compounds for medications, there are many times wherein two molecules that are 𝗺𝗶𝗿𝗿𝗼𝗿 𝗶𝗺𝗮𝗴𝗲𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗲𝗮𝗰𝗵 𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿 are formed. These two molecules each have 𝘂𝗻𝗶𝗾𝘂𝗲 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗽𝗲𝗿𝘁𝗶𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝗿𝗶𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗱𝗶𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝗮𝘁𝗼𝗺 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗰𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 t similar to how our right hand is different from our left hand. This generates more waste in production processes, as pharmaceuticals usually 𝗿𝗲𝗾𝘂𝗶𝗿𝗲 𝗼𝗻𝗹𝘆 𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘁𝘄𝗼 𝗺𝗼𝗹𝗲𝗰𝘂𝗹𝗲𝘀.

The 2020 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry

In 2020, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna for the development of CRISPR-Cas9, a cutting-edge genome editing tool (1). Charpentier and Doudna are the first two women to ever share a Nobel Prize (2), marking a historic moment for women in science around the world.

A Deathly Rainbow

In their pursuit of beauty, humans have been hunting for increasingly more incredible pigments, both natural and synthetic, for millennia, However, hiding behind many of these alluring colors lies a deadly history that makes them all the more interesting.

Gifts of the Magi

Shortly after his birth, the infant Jesus was visited by magi bringing three gifts as a symbol of their worship: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Thousands of years later, these three are used in today’s industries for a variety of reasons.

mRNA Vaccines

How does it Work and What to Expect

Just a few weeks ago, news about the efficacy results of COVID-19 vaccines came out. Moderna and Pfizer announced that their vaccines were 94.5% and 95% effective, respectively (1). While results are promising, both companies are actually testing on a novel genetic technology that has not won approval yet in history. Their technology makes use of mRNA vaccines.

Taal Volcano Eruption

Ang Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS-DOST) ay nagtaas ng alert level 4 sa Bulkang Taal, ayon sa inilabas na bulletin noong 7:30 ng gabi, ika-12 ng January 2020. Ang lebel na ito ay nangangahulugan na maaaring pumutok ang bulkan sa loob ng ilang oras o araw. Unang itinaas sa alert level 1 kahapon. Itinaas pa ito sa alert level 2 noong 2:30 ng hapon at sa alert level 3 noong 4:00 ng hapon. Ang tawag sa pagsabog ng Taal ay phreatic eruption, o pagsabog na nagbubuga ng magkakahalong abo, maiinit na bato, tubig, at steam o usok. Ang pagsabog na ito ng Taal ay dala ng tubig sa ilalim ng bulkan na naging steam. Ang tubig ay nagiging steam kapag masyado itong nainitan ng magma, lava, o maiinit na bato sa loob ng bulkan.

Fight Against HIV and AIDs

December has always been regarded as a month of celebration. On this 1st day of December, let us celebrate World AIDS Day to support global efforts in preventing HIV infections, increasing HIV awareness, and supporting those with HIV (1).

Science of Distraction

Do you get distracted easily? Are you frustrated lately and get tired because of them? No need to worry, all of us probably have been distracted in accomplishing something for once. You may ask: why do we then get so easily distracted? Or rather, why is it hard to focus?

Breastfeed for a Cause

Breast cancer is the most commonly prevalent cancer among women and the second most common cancer overall wherein over two million new cases emerged in 2018 (1). It grows when abnormal cells in the breast start to accumulate and form a tumor (2). Yet, many people still do not know about it and there are usually no signs of breast cancer in early stages. It is then vital to spread awareness about early detection and prevention of the disease. In addition, numerous studies have found that breastfeeding is not only good for babies but can also be a way to prevent and lower breast cancer risk.

VantaBlack

Is that a black hole? A void? Or bad luck?

It’s Vantablack!

In light of the recent discovery of MIT on the new blackest black of the world (which absorbs 99.995% of light), let us take a look at the science behind the Vantablack pigment in celebration of #Inktober month (1).

Your Brain on Stress

It’s midterm season again. Requirements are piling up. Sleepless nights become a routine. And we don’t have time to even read this infographic (but we do anyway). We all just want to rest but sadly, that does not happen easily with our full schedules. Now, here we are battling with a big word called stress, our body’s response to demands that usually exceed beyond our adaptive capacities.

To Vaccinate or Not?

Ever since its conception, vaccines have been a huge leap forward in medical science, preventing diseases and outbreaks of all kinds as the years go by. Vaccines themselves are a preventative measure that uses antigens to train the immune system to fight certain viruses (1). There are five different types: Live attenuated vaccines, inactivated vaccines, toxoid vaccines, subunit vaccines, and conjugate vaccines. Those that handle diseases such as measles or chickenpox have a weakened version of the germ. This allows the body to fight against the closest thing to the actual infection without putting the patient at risk. Inactivated vaccines are dead germs therefore they require multiple shots before taking effect. These are vaccines such as polio and typhoid vaccine (3).

A Cheesy Process

The cheesy relationship between cheese lovers and all major players in the cheese game was built by a fascinating, yet technically demanding, area of dairy science called cheesemaking. Cheese has been around since the early cradle of civilization. Through an integration of multiple research studies, the beginnings of cheesemaking can be dated back to the very origins of livestock domestication and dairying, which provided the context for the emergence of cheese and its process (1).

Uranium vs. Uranium

What is Nuclear Enrichment?

Ever wondered how easy – or difficult it is to actually produce fuel for nuclear weaponry and power plants? Nuclear arms are a highly regulated and secured technology, while the nuclear power plants are a widespread, relatively clean and long-term form of civil energy generation (1, 3). But did you know that nuclear bombs and nuclear power plants share the use of a special type of uranium known as enriched uranium? Yet how similar are the forms of uranium used in weaponry and power plants?