- I hear that eggs have sulphur in them. Is it in the yolk or the white?
- I notice that metal hand rails (galvanized steel?) on our stepped pathways have taken on a bright but dark burnished polish wherever the human hand has touched and not elsewhere. It seems to be resistant to rust and is quite an attractive finish to the metal. What is the chemistry going on here? Has it been exploited in any way?
- Why does rice, almond, and soy milk have a tendency to curdle in hot drinks whereas dairy milk doesn't?
- Can garden herbicides harm cats? When my son sprayed our gardens, his cat died and one of mine became ill. They lost weight, their pupils' dilated, and apparently their immune system became depleted. All three cats were from the same litter.
- When a yeast is added to fruits or malt it changes the sugars into alcohol. However when added to ginger and sugar the resulting fermentation is non-alcoholic. What is the chemical difference in the fermentation?
- At the bottom of the Periodic Table there are elements listed starting with the letters Un. What are these?
- I have a group of 6 tyre stacks in which I grow potatoes, vegetables and
strawberries. I have recently been made aware of some concerns about
materials leaching out of the tyres into the soil and the subsequent
contamination being absorbed by the plants. I have no wish to be responsible
for poisoning my family! Can you advise me about this problem.
- Why does the "head" on a glass of Guiness beer seem to be finer and longer-lasting than other beers?
- What are the constituent chemicals in urine? The ancient Romans
used it as part of a cloth dyeing process.
- I was given a jigsaw puzzle of the Periodic Table of all known elements, and in the course of putting it together realised that it is mostly arranged in rows of 18 elements with each element assigned a number. The exceptions are row 1 which has only Hydrogen (1) and Helium (2), and rows 2 and 3 which have 8 elements with gaps of ten between Beryllium (4) and Boron (5), and Magnesium (12) and Aluminium (13).
- Recently we had an abundance of lemons and decided to juice them. We
stored the juice and pulp in the fridge in a plastic milk bottle and a
glass bottle. After a few days you could see the plastic bottle, which
was only half full, starting to swell and when it was opened it gave a
loud fizzing sound and juice spilled out. The lemon in the glass
bottle, which was filled to the top, also fizzed upon opening but
wasn't as reactive.
- Once upon a time wine bottles had corks, and after being opened
needed “breathing.” Why don’t the current metal screwcaps need
the same performance? Was it only a ritual or does wine still need breathing?
- Once upon a time wine bottles had corks, now more often they have screwcaps.
With corks, the wine was sometimes "corked."
What is "corked", and can it be cured or avoided?
- I use a Baking Soda and White Vinegar cleanser to a recipe of
2Tb Baking Soda, 1 cup of white vinegar and brought up to
1 litre of water. My use is mainly for surfaces in the kitchen.
- Why is it that some milk freezes very well, green top is fine but blue top
separates out and is not appealing?
- A brown build-up has occurred over a period of use on the sole plate of my iron.
What is this?
Is it the same as the brown stains on my pots and pans?
- I have a number of old brass containers, a jug and some
platters/trays that were fashionable about 60 years ago.
I am scared they may contain lead or other metals
that may contaminate the food. Are they safe to use with food?
- How did we discover there are molecules, atoms, protons and electrons
when they are too small to be seen with microscopes?
- I read that with the end of oil, ammonia could be the next fuel for transport
because it can be produced cheaply from renewable electricity. Can it be
used in internal combustion engines?
- Five years ago I bought a house which had been lived in for years by a heavy smoker.
Nothing I do has completely got rid of the smell and I am curious to know how there can
continue to be smell output when there is no smell input. How do smell molecules behave?
If I know that, maybe I can defeat the blighters.
- Why do we use plastic for packaging when it takes so long to break down in a landfill?
- Why do we use plastic for packaging when it takes so long to break
down in a landfill?
- What are chemicals and where do scientists get chemicals from?
- Who discovered dry ice and how?
- I heard that a fire was caused by tea towels spontaneously combusting which seems odd.
Is it possible?
- Where does all the rubber dust/particles go worn from rubber tyres wearing out on our roads?
- Why does UHT milk boil faster in a microwave oven than the same volume of standard
homogenised milk with identical composition.
- Why is water a liquid, when it is made
up of hydrogen and oxygen, which are both gases?
- I have seen advertised objects, containing magnets, which are reputed to
stop lime scale forming. Can this be true?
- Calcium carbonate forms in hard water which contains traces of disolved calcium.
Where does the CO3 come from to form limescale and how can it be got rid of
from porcelain urinals?
- Recently on inspecting a used sheet of corrugated roofing I noticed patches
of a white powdery substance on the under side, mainly where the metal was
nailed to timber. In some places rust was showing through the white powder.
What are the factors which cause the sheeting to deteriorate, how can it be
slowed, and can it be treated?
- Which grows faster - salt or sugar crystals?
- I have an outdoor ornament whose paint changes colour with the weather, and
also a coffee mug which changes image when it holds hot liquid.
How do these paints work?
- I heard that heating plastics can release dangerous dioxins. Are plastics safe to use
in microwave ovens?
- What is in Lava lamps?
- Electric cars using lithium ion batteries may be
the new transport to avoid future oil shocks. What is lithium, where is it mined, is
there enough to prevent future lithium shocks, is it toxic and can it be recycled?
- I was told table spread is only one molecule different to plastic.
Is this true and how healthy is it compared to butter?
- Why does rubbish smell so bad?
- In my observation I cannot ignite petrol using the red-hot sparks from an angle grinder
without using an intermediary such as dried grass, paper, or flaking paint. Why is this
when flint sparks or electrical sparks will ignite petrol?
- Is it true that during the Second World War
Germany and South Africa made transport fuels from coal? If
so, what is the process and is it feasible today
- A small-aircraft crash reportedly narrowly missed a container of
"highly flamable liquid oxygen". Is it correct to describe oxygen as flammable?
- What is water made up of?
- A recent newspaper article stated that a Czech
coal-fired power station emitted more than 8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide
per year. How can carbon emissions be weighed?
- When making bread, why do we need to knead the dough and
why is bread baked in such a hot oven?
- What is in asparagus that changes the smell of my urine?
- Is soil watered from a fluoridated supply over the years likely to build
up high levels of fluoride, thus affecting fluoride levels in fruit and
vegetables grown in it?
- How is yeast made?
- Can you make bread without yeast, what if your yeast is out of date and what
makes bread go mouldy?
- How do people get salt from the sea?
- Why is sulphur in eggs and how does it get there?
- What forms can hydrogen take?
- How do people clean dirty water?
- What is a Laser-Ablation Inductively-Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer?
- Can Oil and Vinegar explode?
- How does fire start?
- What is Canola Oil, as used in cooking?
- How do I make a coal-flower garden like my grandmother used to make?
- Do large public firework displays do any damage to the atmosphere or the ozone layer?
- Why do carpets and funiture fabrics fade in the sun?
- How is hokey pokey in ice cream made round?
- What is the best way to stop crystals forming in urinals?
They are hard to remove, is an acidic or alkaline solution best, and do magnetic preventers work?
- I once read that oxygen is blue because clear skies and lakes are blue. Is this so?
- Why does egg yolk and faeces stick
to most surfaces and fabrics better than your average glue?
- To remind car-owners of when their car should be next
serviced I have been using a marker pen to write the
details onto car window stickers. By the time of the
next service this writing has nearly faded to be invisible.
What causes this?
- We added a teaspoon of bubble bath to two litres each of hot, warm and
cold water then whisked each for 30 seconds. The cold one had more
- I lit two tea candles,
one red and one uncoloured. The red one burnt longer. Why?
- I tried growing crystals of
sugar, glucose and gelatine using the same method as growing salt
crystals, ie dissolving the material in water until no more could
be and then hanging a string in the liquid to allow large crystals
to grow. It worked for sugar but not for glucose or gelatine.
- How do poos and wees get flushed down the toilet?
- What is it we detect, and how, through smell?
- Why do socks become easier to stretch when wet?
- We put three drops of different food colouring at the corners of a triangle
on the surface of a bowl of milk, and then put a drop of detergent in the middle
of the triangle. All the food colouring shot out to the side. Why?
- Why is a chlorine atom smaller than a sodium atom?
- How big is an atom?
- When we placed some iodine on pieces of banana, potato, apple, pear, onion,
bread and potato crisps potato, bread and crisps went black but the others
stayed the same. Why did this happen?
- Beryllium has many similarities
to aluminium so why hasn't it come into general use?
- How can hydrogen be separated from oxygen in a car run by water?
- Why do roses smell?
- Eve Crossan, of Stirling, asked:-
- How is chalk made?
- What is Greek Fire?
- What is Condy's crystals and where did it get its name from?
- What is in soap to make it so slippery?
- What is hen's egg shell made out of?
- What causes the flashes of light seen in the sea on some dark nights?
- Because of the presence of silverfish, we placed camphor balls
in a kitchen drawer which was lined with 'malamine' plastic.
Some time later the plastic had become slushy. Why?
- Oxygen is essential for life. Where did the first oxygen come from?
- Why is it that two gases (hydrogen and oxygen) can combine to form a liquid (water)?
- What makes elastic stretchy?
- What is in wood ash?
- There are frying pans made with a non-stick Teflon coating.
If nothing sticks to the Teflon coating then how does it
stick to the pan?
- Why does water take up more space when it turns to ice?
- Can you find the age of rocks by using radiocarbon dating
or are they generally too old? If a rock was shot from a
volcano and isn't that old, can we use radiocarbon dating?
- What if any arguments were provoked because of the use of radiocarbon dating?
- What metals are in our coins?
- I have been reading about the amazing discovery of a 5000 year-old-man,
the `ice mummy'. He was dated by carbon-14 dating. What is this and
how does it work?
- Some people like to chew paper. What chemicals are in paper?
- How, in your opinion, did the use of radiocarbon dating
change the way scientists are able to interpret and understand history?
- What substances are in rubber?
- How is Bicarbonate of Soda made? Is it a mineral or a drug?
- What is the most common element in the world?
- What determines whether or not a plastic bag rustles, something
that is embarrasing at the theatre?
- What is a liquid crystal display?
- What is the colour of paint made out of?
- What is sea salt?
- Why does the estuary smell so much?
- What is ink made of?
- Is water a neutral, acidic or alkaline?
- What's in washing powder to make clothes so white?
- What is washing powder made out of?
- Where does mercury come from?
- Where does titanium come from?
- We know the speed of light and the speed of sound but what is the speed of smell?
- While making bread I wondered how yeast works. How does it?
- What is DNA made of?
- Jemimah Walker, of Ilam School, asked:-
Eloise Bacon, of Henley Primary School, asked:-
- How do you make nylon out of coal?
- Why does salt dissolve?
- Why are the elements numbered?
- Why does acid burn skin and other materials?
- Why do we use Latin names for Chemical symbols?
- How do they make the special effects on TV like when a shop blows up just as
someone is leaving it?
- What makes our bones white?
- What is the difference between Two Stroke Oil and Engine Oil?
- Kate Johnstone, of Ardgowan School, asked:-
Koko Hema-Taylor, of Ardgowan School, asked:-
Eva Cossan, of Stirling, asked:-
- What makes gladwrap stick to itself?
- Why does sunlight make your hair go lighter?
- Why is butter yellow?
- How is elastic made?
- Shaun Cooper, of King's High School, asked:-
- How many electrons are there in a molecule?
- How is acrylic made?
- How does acid rain form?
- Why does concrete go hard after it is poured?
- How does glue stick stick things together?
- What is the difference between super and unleaded petrol?