Chemistry

Chemistry is the science of matter and the changes it undergoes during chemical reactions. In this section, learn about everyday chemistry, from chlorine beach to helium, and even why chocolate turns gray.

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Are compounding pharmacies regulated?

Compounding pharmacies don't usually get a lot of media coverage for good news. It's the mistakes that tend to make the evening news. It turns out that U.S. regulatory practices for compounding pharmacies tend to follow much the same pattern.

What's a compounding pharmacy?

If a drugstore is the equivalent of a 7-Eleven where you can pick up ready-made apple pie pockets, then a compounding pharmacy is your corner bakery where an individual tart is made just for you. But are these specialized pharmacies safe?

What is Avogadro’s number?

That's one seriously big number, and technically Amedeo Avogadro didn't even come up with it. So how did the Italian chemist make such an indelible (numerical) mark on the wonderful world of chemistry?

How Snus Works

First there was Volvo. Then came IKEA. Well get ready for the next major Swedish export: snus, a smokeless tobacco product, similar to dip or chew.

How Mass Spectrometry Works

Mass spectrometry enables the major league to sniff out athletes guilty of doping. It can also help us locate oil or design a killer perfume. Who says chemistry isn't cool?

How Human Experimentation Works

Everyone from the father of anatomy to modern-day pharmaceutical companies has used humans as guinea pigs. Do we always need live test subjects to advance science?

How Perfume Works

We once emptied the scent pods of male musk deer into a bottle of fragrance and doused it on, feeling like a million bucks. How has perfume changed since then?

How Magic Mushrooms Work

Mushrooms -- they're not just a pizza topping. This psychotropic fungus has guided many an adventurer on a trip. How do shrooms make their magic?

How Gold Works

We love it. We wear it glittering around our necks and sparkling at our ears, wrists and feet. We pass it down to our children and hoard it in secret stashes. Why is this precious metal so prized?

How the Periodic Table Works

It begins with an unassuming "H" and ends in crazy elements that you've likely never heard of. But the periodic table, encapsulated on a mere sheet of paper, can be a scientist's best friend and a testament to our human drive to organize the world.

How Meth Works

When it comes to stimulating the human central nervous system, meth can hold its shaky, toothless head high. Why is this drug so additive?

How LSD Works

Can you pass the acid test? That electric Kool-Aid changed the fabric of 1960's American counterculture. So, what's it's like to trip on LSD?

How Lead Works

Lead is one of the most maligned metals on the periodic table and for good reason. Lead poisoning is serious. But the beleaguered element isn't all bad, especially when it's protecting you from radiation.

How Aluminum Works

Once considered a semiprecious metal alongside gold and silver, aluminum pretty much languished in obscurity until the 19th century. How did the metal become so ubiquitous?

How Medical Marijuana Works

Imagine spending your days racked with pain or losing pound upon pound because nausea leaves you unable to eat. Now imagine that someone offers you a wonder drug to cure all your ills. The problem? It's illegal.

What if someone released a large amount of helium into a small space?

When you speak, a stream of air flows up your trachea from your lungs. And when you add helium, your voice rises several octaves. So if you filled the air with helium, just how high would your voice get?

What if I touched dry ice?

If you were to touch dry ice, it wouldn't be anything like touching water ice. So what's it like? Is it hot or cold? And would it leave a mark?

What if I put aluminum foil in the microwave?

We've all been told not to put aluminum foil in the microwave. Stories of incredible explosions and fires are usually at the center of these ominous warnings. Why is that?

How Aphrodisiacs Work

Most of us have heard the talk about oysters and chocolate, and maybe you've read an article about the stimulating effects of ginseng. But garlic, licorice and cucumber? Learn about the history of aphrodisiacs and whether they've been proven to be effective.

How Crack Cocaine Works

Crack cocaine, like many other illegal drugs, leads to addiction, death, increased crime rates and imprisonment. But this drug targets the inner city almost exclusively and possession or distribution of crack carries extremely harsh prison sentences.

How Viagra Works

Viagra is one of the best-known drugs of all time. Nearly every adult in America has heard of the drug and can tell you what it does. Find out how this high-profile medication works its magic.

What Is Ricin?

One person lay in critical condition on Feb. 29, 2008, after the deadly biotoxin ricin was found in his Las Vegas hotel room. What is ricin, and why is it so dangerous?

How Luminol Works

Have you seen investigators on crime shows who spray some stuff on a "clean" carpet and suddenly -- blood stains! Well, of all the fictional technology on TV, it turns out this stuff is real! Find out how luminol reveals the blood.

Why Does Chocolate Turn Gray Sometimes? Is It Still Safe to Eat?

My parents just came back from Belgium and they brought me several boxes of chocolates. Some of the candy is sort of grayish looking. Is it OK to eat?

How Marijuana Works

Marijuana isn't just a recreational drug for hippies and philosophy majors -- its psychoactive history ranges from Egyptian mummies to modern U.S. politics. What's the big deal about this leafy, green plant?


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