Magnolia Gum, Organic Uranium, Biotech Sweetener

Magnolia flower

I’ve got a weird and wonderful mix of chemistry news again on the Reactive Reports site and my Alchemist column on

Barking Up the Right Tree for Fresh Breath – A traditional Chinese extract from the bark of the magnolia tree could give you fresh breath and kill off the oral microbes that cause halitosis.

Cats Don’t Work Like That – The three-way catalytic converter in your car does not, it turns out, work the way chemists thought it did. One of the key functions of a “cat” is to convert toxic carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide.

Double Vision With Coordination Polymers – Calcite crystals can make you see double. You don’t ingest them to achieve some kind of mind warp effect; they are simply birefringent, having essentially two focal points.

Organic Uranium – The first ever uranium methylidyne molecule has been synthesized by US chemists despite the reactivity of the heavy, heavy metal.

And, in The Alchemist this week, we hear of an award to an entire nation for its efforts in energy research and development. In research news we hear of a record-breakingly short metal-metal bond that beats the textbook great, counterintuitive results of electron pairing comes to light in bismuth, and how to extract the organic impurities from water with an old filter for a fresher taste. Also in this week’s issue, a biotech solution to sweetness and a heads up for a Mickey Mouse protein involved in channeling potassium ions. The Alchemist Newsletter is available via, online since 1997.