Hiding from the light

CHEMISTRY FOR HEALTH

If a potentially powerful antibiotic agent is being kept off the market, there must be a good reason; in the case of marinomycin A, it is the result of a frustrating flaw. Derived from a species of marine bacteria, it represents a family of macrodiolides — macrocyclic ethers with some potent medicinal qualities, in this...

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Natural shells point the way to tougher glass

CHEMISTRY FOR ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Our most sophisticated synthetic materials may boast unprecedented strength and durability but for something that puts them to shame, just visit a pond or tidal pool. The mineralized structure of nacre, a biological composite that makes up the shells of simple organisms such as mollusks, is stiffer and harder than anything we can make. This...

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Nurturing an ash roots movement

ENVIRONMENT

People living in Ontario’s premier cottage country of Muskoka have traditionally scattered the remains from their wood stove fires on their gardens, but some are outfitting themselves with 80-litre cans bearing the slogan “Save Your Ash”, where they are stockpiling this material for recycling. Once the contents are dropped off at an approved region waste...

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Creating a buzz around lead isotopes

ENVIRONMENT

Bees can make an outstanding contribution to detailed and comprehensive environmental monitoring, which is why scientists around the world regularly recruit them as hard-working members of their research teams. The insects forage in well-defined regions, where their bodies pick up minute samples of elements that may be present. Back in the hive, as they groom...

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