Chemistry - Its Effect on Everyday Life
|Meeting pattern||2nd Tuesday of the Month at 2.00-4.00 pm|
The aim of the group has shifted from its original focus on the elements and the Periodic Table. We now look at the role of Chemistry in Everyday Life. We are much more involved in looking at how Chemistry impacts on our everyday life. The group still works in the same way in that each person takes it in turn to prepare then present a 45 to 60 minute talk on their chosen topic. Some of the areas covered in 2019 were:
- What makes the colour - Blue?
- Gold and its significance in human society
- Ruthenium, one of the elemental surprises
- Coal - too important to burn.
- Some Chemical Aspects of Cooking
- Resistance to Antibiotics by Bacteria
The programme for 2020 will start off with a bang and then progress in more gentle ways.
- January Steve will talk about - The history of Explosives
- February Alison will present - How the Eye sees Colour
- March Helen will talk on a topic yet to be decided
- April Jim will make a presentation
- May Dick will give us his topic
So as you can see it is very much a self-taught group with each person taking it in turn to research and present roughly an hours’ worth of information on their selected subject. This is generally followed by another hour of discussion loosely based around the topic of the presentation, but it can easily slide off into other interesting avenues. We have the ability to show PowerPoint/Photo file presentations via a laptop linked to a TV. Through this system we can also play YouTube and other website video clips. Some presenters use the modern technology others use paper copies and handouts. Both are perfectly fine.
Some thoughts on topics discussed in 2019
- Gold has long dominated human society as it has always been available in its native form as nuggets and is easy to work. It has found many uses as; Coinage, Jewellery, Electronics, Space, Medicine, Cooking, Catalyst in Chemical Reactions. Gold Rushes in the USA and Australia in the 19th Century led to massive movements of people and dramatic changes in fortunes.
- There are several questions to ask about the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics. The questions that economists ask: How many will die as a result of anti bacterial resistance? How many more would die if we took no action? What are the economic costs today and in the future? What policy interventions would we need to make and how much would they cost? Who would pay for them? The economic problem is we want pharmaceutical companies (pcs) to develop new antibiotics (abs) but, if they are successful, we want to limit the use of the abs and therefore the pcs ability to recoup their investment. Therefor the current rewards system does not work.
- One of the major effects of chemistry in cooking is the Maillard reaction. This is the reaction involved in formation of browning when frying, grilling, baking or roasting food. For instance you can speed up the preparation of perfect browned and unctuous fried onions by adding a touch (1/4 tsp for 2 onions) of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and a splash of water. Jim, who gave the talk, provided the Victoria sponge sandwich cake, as an example of the chemistry involved in cooking, which we thoroughly enjoyed with a mug of coffee.
The group currently has 6 members, so there is enough room for 6 more people to join.