second-year undergraduate

Real World Application: Drain Cleaners - Should I use them?

Common drain cleaners consist of water, sodium hypochlorite (bleach) and sodium hydroxide (base) and/or potassium hydroxide (base). Bases are caustic (caustic loosely means to gnaw or eat away at) and can cause corrosion in metal pipes. Wouldn’t you know, our house has PVC piping through the fixtures that dump into a 45 year old cast iron pipe. The cast iron pipe is old and currently shows signs of surface rust and corrosion to the point where the pipe appears to be leaking then sealing itself in several spots. Not to mention the interior of the cast iron pipe may not be completely open, thus, not permitting a fast flow in drainage. Good news: a home warranty is being taken advantage of to hopefully replace the cast iron pipe with a PVC pipe.

 

A Thing for Chairs!

Over the past two years, I have immersed myself in designing mobile games for organic chemistry: founding a company called Alchemie and building a team to develop these games. The first of our games is called Chairs! (The exclamation point comes from the fact that an app called Chairs already existed in the AppStore.) The game Chairs! is what we call our proof-of-concept. Folks were a bit incredulous when we told them we design games that make learning organic chemistry intuitive and fun. 

The Intersection of Art and Chemistry

Last year I came across a link on Twitter regarding an art installation by Roger Hiorns in England titled “Seizure.” Some of you may have seen it too – a condemned flat in London was essentially sealed off and filled with more than 75,000 L of supersaturated copper sulfate solution.

Encouraging Words

Here in Michigan we are entering into our 4th week of school. My Honors Chemistry 1 students will be having their first test this week and my Chemistry 2 students will be having their stoichiometry test in 2 weeks. Things are moving along and I am daily observing improvement in my students. 

Oxidation of diphenylmethanol to benzophenone

I'm looking for a reliable procedure for an undergraduate organic lab experiment: oxidation of diphenylmethanol to benzophenone.  I am updating our lab experiments and was thinking about introducing phase transfer catalysis, linked to a 2-step Grignard synthesis ( bromobenzene --> phenylmagnesium bromide  -->  diphenylmethanol  --> benzophenone).  I have found a JChem Ed paper that sug