Trying to Make Game of Thrones Valyrian Steel Sword With Real Materials 

Nothing reigns consistently in HBO’s Game of Thrones (and George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” book series that inspired it) except Valyrian steel, a magical sword material. Valyrian steel is, of course, extremely not real. But materials scientist Ryan Consell took a look at its chemistry anyway. » 4/07/15 10:30am 4/07/15 10:30am

Why Old Paper Turns Yellow

When I was a kid, my parents had a collection of historic old, yellowed newspapers. For example, I distinctly remember an oldWashington Post newspaper sitting on a bookshelf from July 21, 1969 with the headline "The Eagle Has Landed – Two Men Walk on the Moon." Or a fading, brownish-yellow one from August 8, 1974 with… » 3/18/15 7:06am 3/18/15 7:06am

High-Speed Cameras Reveal Why Sodium Explodes in Water

You remember the sodium demo from chemistry class: Just a small chunk of the pure metal dropped into water causes a great big flash and bang. You might even remember your chemistry teacher's explanation for why. But there's always been a missing piece of the puzzle, which scientists have finally figured out using… » 1/27/15 1:20pm 1/27/15 1:20pm

This Cheap Sensor Will Tell Your Phone When Food Goes Bad

Some MIT eggheads invented a very impressive and very inexpensive sensor that stands to protect you against anything from a bomb to a bad pack of beef. And it's so simple. The new sensor is just a modified near field communication (NFC) chip that can detect the presence of specific gases with the help of carbon… » 12/08/14 5:30pm 12/08/14 5:30pm

Tattletale Smoke Detector Knows When and What You're Smoking

Just because it's illegal for people to smoke in certain areas, it doesn't necessarily mean they won't, and putting up a 'No Smoking' sign isn't much of a deterrent. So Joseph BelBruno, a chemistry professor from Dartmouth College, has turned his research on second-hand smoke into a new kind of smoke detector that's… » 10/29/14 12:12pm 10/29/14 12:12pm