The Sceptical Chymist | Blogroll: Everyday chemistry

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Editor’s note: As we continue to invite bloggers out there in the wild to compose our monthly Blogroll column, Andrew Bissette penned the September 2013 column.

Editor’s note added August 23: As Renée pointed out on Twitter, she analysed Vegemite, not Marmite.


A closer look at the chemistry all around us and advice on countering chemophobia.

Social media is often cast as an endless source of procrastination and a drain on productivity. However, critics typically overlook the advantages of online interactions, such as the potential to foster exciting international collaborations! Renée Webster of Lost in Scientia recently teamed up with Vittorio Saggiomo of Labsolutely to resolve a long-standing and controversial scientific question: what is actually in Marmite?

Combining solid-phase microextraction, GC–MS, NMR spectroscopy and visual microscopy, Webster and Saggiomo probed the composition and properties of this intractable mixture. They take the reader through the use of these techniques in an entertaining and informative fashion. With these preliminary studies complete, perhaps future work can offer some insight into the love/hate relationship people tend to have with Marmite.

Meanwhile at the University of Bristol, Jenny Slaughter and Natalie Fey have started a new blog, Picture It. With beautiful photography, lucid prose and a healthy dose of organic synthesis they bring everyday chemistry to life. Their first posts take a closer look at plants, starting with roses and rhubarb.

Finally, on a more serious note, at In the Pipeline Derek Lowe issues a thorough takedown of chemical scare-mongering, and reignites the debate on tackling bad science in the media. In response, Ash Jogalekar of The Curious Wavefunction calls for chemists to unite and lobby on a national scale to oppose chemical myths and misconceptions. Whether we engage on a personal or political level, Janet Stemwedel of Doing Good Science reminds us to do so intelligently, sympathetically and without using simplistic science models of communication.

Written by Andrew Bissette, who blogs at


[As mentioned in this post, we’re posting the monthly blogroll column here on the Sceptical Chymist. This is the September 2013 article]

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