The current issue of my Alchemist column on ChemWeb.com is now online:
The old alchemist’s trick of attempting to use urine as a starting material for all kinds of products could offer the twenty-first century a golden opportunity, we learn this week, while electrospinning DNA nanofibers might shed white light on new technologies without requiring a naked flame. If the alchemists were searching for everlasting life, then the discovery that a compound from Easter Island is a murine elixir may not come as a surprise. There’s also a sweet surprise for lovers of corn who are not persuaded by chemophobics to go “organic.” Turns out that the application of weedkiller to sweetcorn boosts the nutritional content of the yellow kernels. The melamine petfood scandal of 2007 and the more recent poisoning of infants in China thanks to adulterated dairy products has been investigated with a novel analytical technique that provides a baseline mark for unaffected children. Finally this week, clean fuels could emerge from a multimillion-dollar investment in the US.