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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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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?

Is there a way to make my sunglasses scratch-resistant?

I recently bought a pair of mirrored sunglasses and they are already scratched. Isn't there a way to make them scratch-resistant?

What is dye-sublimation printing?

What is dye-sublimation printing? Why is it better for printing digital images than traditional ink-jet printing?

Biting on aluminum foil can be painful. Why?

Biting on aluminum foil can be painful -- basically, when you bite on foil, you build a battery in your mouth. Ouch!

How Nicotine Works

Smoking or chewing tobacco makes many people feel good, even mildly euphoric. It's the nicotine that produces the buzz. Find out how nicotine affects the human body and what makes it so addictive.

How Alcohol Works

More than 2.3 billion people across the globe drink alcohol, but most don't consider it a drug. But if you've ever seen someone who's had too much, you know alcohol has profound effects on the mind and body.

Is it harmful to breathe 100-percent oxygen?

We need oxygen to live, so it seems to me that if we got more oxygen, we would be better off. Is it harmful to breathe 100-percent oxygen? What will happen?

How does rust work?

Rust is the common name for iron oxide, which is created when iron bonds with oxygen. In fact, pure iron is only rarely found in nature because it interacts with oxygen so easily.

What Makes Glass Transparent?

Here's something to consider: The place you call home likely has walls and glass windows. Both are adept at keeping rain, snow and wind from bothering you in your abode. Only one, though, allows light to enter. Why is that?

What is dynamite and how does it work?

Dynamite is simply some sort of absorbent material (like sawdust) soaked in nitroglycerin. But what makes this chemical so explosive?

How Do Artificial Flavors Work?

Ever wondered exactly what they "artificial flavors" in your candy are, and why no specific ingredients are listed? Find out in this article.

If water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen, why can't we breathe underwater?

If water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen, why can't we breathe underwater? It has to do with how molecules combine and how the human lung functions.

How do you write the chemical reaction that takes place in a smoke detector?

Chemical formulas provide a concise explanation for reactions. In this article, we explain the formula for the reaction in a smoke detector.

What causes helium balloons to lose their lift after a day or two?

Scenario: A helium balloon is up against the ceiling one day, and the next day it's on the floor. Does the balloon fall because the helium leaks out, or because the helium molecules slow down due to decreased pressure?

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