Thursday, August 31, 2006 - 04:08
Have you ever wondered about Cheeze Whiz? why new cars have a distinctive smell? or what makes golf balls so springy? Chemical and Engineering News, published by the American Chemical Society, has a wonderful section that you will certainly appreciate. "What's that stuff?" is a collection of entertaining stories about the stuff we encounter in everyday life. Each article combines chemistry with history and fun facts in a way that entices the reader to stay awhile and read every one. Since the stories are written for non-chemists, they make a perfect companion to chemistry courses ranging from high school and beyond. Many of the articles would be great in non-chemistry courses, too. For example, the articles on chocolate, Jell-O, ice cream, margarine, MSG, licorice, and chili peppers would be great assignments for any nutrition or cooking class. Microbiology students would enjoy reading about food preservatives and pasteurized foods. Environmental science students could read about bug sprays, plastic bags, cement, asphalt, and artificial snow. Even artists, cosmetology, and fashion students would find something here to spark their imagination. Stories on sunscreen, ink, fireworks, hair coloring, self-tanners, and lipstick are sure to appeal. With articles on topics that range from Silly Putty to Lycra, and catnip to champagne, this site is sure to answer some questions along with raising a few new ones. What is kitty litter anyway? Now, I'm going to have to find out.