Chickens See Things You Can’t

I love chicken soup, chicken wings, chicken eggs… but can chicken eye’s help us understand a new state of matter? Check out the article on ScienceDaily by clicking here!

Researchers from Princeton University and Washington University in St. Louis  studied the light-sensitive cells known as cones that are in the eyes of chickens and most other birds active in daytime. These birds have four types of cones for color — violet, blue, green and red — and one type for detecting light levels, and each cone type is a different size. The cones are packed into a single epithelial, or tissue, layer called the retina. Yet, they are not arranged in the usual way, the researchers report.

They report that the unusual arrangement of cells in a chicken’s eye constitutes the first known biological occurrence of a potentially new state of matter known as “disordered hyperuniformity.” This new state of matter has been shown to have unique physical properties.

They have a “hidden order” that allows them to behave like crystal and liquid states of matter, they exhibit order over large distance and disorder over small distances.

This discovery from chicken’s eyes may help create advanced materials such as self-organizing colloids, or optics that can transmit light with the efficiency of a crystal and the flexibility of a liquid.


Sandwich Bags and Sarcasm

Just a little dosage of what you get if you read Max’s blogThe Name is Bond, Ionic Bond.

I love plastic sandwich baggies! I use them for just about everything. Holding my breakfast, arts and crafts, keeping snack food fresh, packaging my lunch… but according to this post (linked above) from Max’s blog, they can be used for gasoline, too!

Scientists in India have created a method for creating liquid fuel from plastic bags and other items.

“Considering the extremely large amount of plastic based products we use on a daily basis, this new discovery may prove to be very useful. “

You bet it’s useful! I did a little research and found this article from

” According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in 2008 plastics amounted to about 12 percent of the country’s municipal solid waste stream — up from less than 1 percent 50 years ago. That’s about 30 million tons (27 million metric tons), close to half of it in the form of containers and other types of packaging.”

30 million tons of plastic! Imagine we could use that plastic for fuel! That would sure aid in solving our energy crises along, hm?

Here’s another interesting tidbit about how scientists are trying to lessen the impact plastics make on our environment: chemists are conducting research into using renewable resources from organic polymers – i.e. cellulose, soy protein, vegetable oil, and triglycerides –  to produce plastics. Thats right, food-based biodegradable plastics! These often take less energy to produce than traditional plastics and companies have begun to take notice. Their prices have become less competitive with traditional plastics, too!


According to this article on ScienceDaily, researchers at MIT and the University pierre et Marie Curie in Paris provide the first detailed model for the 3-D shape of a strand of curly hair.

This work could have applications in the computer animation film industry, but it also could be used by engineers to predict the curve that long steel pipes, tubing, and cable develop after being coiled around a spool for transport. In the field, these materials often act like a stubborn garden hose whose intrinsic curves make it behave in unpredictable ways. In engineering terminology, these items — and hair — are all examples of a slender, flexible rod.

“Our work doesn’t deal with the collisions of all the hairs on a head, which is a very important effect for animators to control a hairstyle,” Reis says. “But it characterizes all the different degrees of curliness of a hair and describes mathematically how the properties of the curl change along the arc length of a hair.”

I think that’s awesome! Refer to a previous post I made about the chemistry of hair by clicking here to see how complicated the chemistry of hair really can be.

Representation is important. It’s a shame when people can’t watch animated movies or shows that have characters that look like them. I hope this work can help even smaller animation studios make works with unique characters like Merida!


Cosmetics Chemistry

This post from Aneesa’s blog,, touches upon the chemicals in our cosmetics!

“It’s not surprising that your concealer you put on daily maybe the reason why your skin condition is bad.
If you look deeper,dozens of harsh synthesized chemicals have made their way to approval through loopholes in US’s Federal Law and FDA.
Most of these chemicals are known to be great risk factors of cancer, infertility, and overall health.”

Pretty intriguing, right? I remember hearing from one of my favorite Youtubers, the beauty queen Michelle Phan, that she had a friend that worked at a makeup factory. Apparently, the bins that held makeup remover had to be regularly replaced because the formula would destroy their containers! And we’re supposed to be putting this stuff on our face? Gross!

Here are some healthy natural alternatives to some conventional beauty products that I found around the Internet and on 

Deodorant:  Baking soda
Lotion: Coconut Oil
Toner: Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
Makeup Remover: Extra Virgin Olive Oil

and more! Just do your research before buying pricey cosmetics- you never know; there might be a healthy, convenient, less expensive solution that’s better for your skin and the environment!

I Know You Guys Love our 3D Printer…

If you haven’t heard, the New Milford High School’s MakerSpace in the library has an awesome 3D Printer.

Researchers have introduced a unique micro-robotic technique to assemble the components of complex materials. These components are the foundation of tissue engineering and 3-D printing, which has become vitally important to the future of medicine for many reasons.

Check out the article on ScienceDaily by clicking here!

The micro-robot, which is remotely controlled by magnetic fields, can move one hydrogel at a time to build structures. This is critical in tissue engineering, as human tissue architecture is complex, with different types of cells at various levels and locations. When building these structures, the location of the cells is significant in that it will impact how the structure will ultimately function. “Compared with earlier techniques, this technology enables true control over bottom-up tissue engineering,” explains Savas Tasoglu, PhD.

“Our work will revolutionize three-dimensional precise assembly of complex and heterogeneous tissue engineering building blocks and serve to improve complexity and understanding of tissue engineering systems,” said Metin Sitti, professor of Mechanical Engineering and the Robotics Institute and head of CMU’s NanoRobotics Lab.

“We are really just beginning to explore the many possibilities in using this micro-robotic technique to manipulate individual cells or cell-encapsulating building blocks.” says Demirci. “This is a very exciting and rapidly evolving field that holds a lot of promise in medicine.”

While our library’s 3D printer can’t exactly print out human tissue, nor does it use micro assembly robots, I still think it’s pretty cool, and it’s only going to get cooler! Remember, this is what some of the first computers looked like a couple decades ago, and now everyone has such sleek and high-powered ones.

You never know what science will make possible!



Traffic jams — from the backseat while driving on the highway, in line for lunch, walking through New York City — trying to get to a store with a mega-sale on Black Friday — man, I hate traffic jams! they’re slow everything down, but that’s not the case for molecules! Check out the Science Daily article by clicking here!

New research by Northwestern University researches finds that water molecules traveling throuh tiny carbon nanotube pipes do not flow continuously but actually more like stop-and-go traffic.

“Previous molecular dynamics simulations suggested that water molecules coursing through carbon nanotubes are evenly spaced and move in lockstep with one another,” said Seth Lichter, professor of mechanical engineering at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. “But our model shows that they actually move intermittently, enabling surprisingly high flow rates of 10 billion molecules per second or more.”

In 2005, researchers, assuming that water molecules move through channels in a constant stream, were surprised to discover that water in carbon nanotubes traveled 10,000 times faster than predicted. These findings could resolve this baffling quandary.

Nanochannels are found in all of our cells, where they regulate fluid flow across cell membranes. They also have promising industrial applications for desalinating water.

Chemistry is so baffling!  Imagine if traffic jams made humans move faster, too? Wouldn’t that be convenient!

Have A Bottle of Leftover Bubbly?

New Years was about a month ago. Have you forgotten all about your resolutions yet?

Better question: have you forgotten all about that bottle of leftover bubbly? There’s no way to tell if it’s gone bad or not until you open it at the next celebration.. or is there?

The American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry has published a study where scientists report a precise new way for wineries and consumers to predict how long their sparkling wines will last. Montserrat Riu-Aumatell and colleagues explain that the shelf life of various sparkling wines, from champagne to prosecco, depends on environmental factors such as temperature.

Food manufacturers can measure a compound called 5-HMF, which builds up in food as it goes bad, to tell when to toss a product out. After testing levels of this browning compound in several bottles stored over two years at different temperatures, their study found that 5-HMF is a good indicator of freshness and that refrigerating sparkling wines almost completely prevented browning.

It’s cool how chemistry is always helping us find new ways to make our daily lives easier! Well, not my daily life, because I’m underage and we don’t consume alcohol in my house anyway. I wonder if 5-HMF is a good indicator of freshness in apple cider? I also have some sparkling grape juice in the fridge… Hm…