Most people know about the strange smell that asparagus gives off after it has been, ahem, processed by some humans. Yet other humans aren’t able to smell the odor at all. That makes asparagus an unusual marker for the intricacies of genetic variation.
Some scientists suspected that our ear wax may contain a natural fungicide, bactericide, and insecticide, the better to protect against buggy invaders crawling inside the ear canal. Alas, this turns out not to be true.
We’ve already seen how beavers can save California from its seemingly endless drought. Now it looks like they can save the world from industrial farming by changing the chemistry of the water, making them natural biochemists.
Yesterday the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Tomas Lindahl, Aziz Sancar, and Paul Modrich for their work in mapping out how cells repair damaged DNA. Their research improved our understanding of how our own cells work and helped in the development of cancer treatments, but…
Valerian root, many cat owners have found, makes their cats turn hyper. Cats aren’t the only creatures that have their behavior affected by valerian root. Slime molds literally go out of their way to seek it out, and that provided researchers a clue to why cats love it so much.
Serotonin got famous as the joy chemical—the one that could lift depression and put us in a good mood. It’s also in the venom of many animals, from hornets to snakes, and in some cases it’s lethal.
We know that some bee larvae develop into queens and other bee larvae develop into workers because they were fed differently. Until now we didn’t know what “ingredient” in the food made queens. It turns out to be not an additive but an absence that makes workers.
This is the ultimate video to illustrate that “the dose makes the poison.” ASAP Science explains how much seasoning, how many cherry pits, and how much loud music will murder you.
As much as we like to marvel at the power and majesty of the ocean, we have to admit that as beautiful as it is, it also stinks. It stinks because it’s shot through with sulfur. And that sulfur has seen the insides of two different creatues before it got to your nose.
Too much molybdenum can kill you. Too little molybdenum can kill you. Never heard of molybdenum? You’re not alone. This is probably the most important element that no one knows about.
Strontium-90 is not good news. It emits ionizing radiation, which means you want to keep it out of our body. Unfortunately, your body has other ideas. The body’s own mechanisms welcome this isotope in, and store it away.
We know that cells maintain their water content through osmosis. Now we can see what happens when someone deliberately screws around with osmosis. Some cells explode. Others turn into “ghosts.”
You know that characteristic funky seaweed smell? It isn’t a by-product of the plant’s metabolism or environment. It’s a scent manufactured by seaweed for one reason only; to lure the sperm of a mate.
Radishes may seem spicy — but they’re not. They don’t have any spicy flavor compounds in them, the way chili peppers do. So why do they taste spicy when you bite into them?
What you’re seeing, when hydrogen peroxide fizzes up on contact with blood, is a desperate stuggle for life. An enzyme in your blood, and most other living things, rips hydrogen peroxide apart – but not fast enough for bacteria.
Here's a story, maybe apocryphal, about an episode in the life of a young Louis Pasteur. It marks his first dip into the world of microorganisms. And it's about how he saved the people of Lille from living without booze.
Pheromones are supposed to be the stuff that make animals do it like they do on the discovery channel. They are supposed make mothers love their babies and babies imprint on their mothers. But there are also kairomones — which just get animals killed.
The Gympie Gympie is an Australian plant with spindly stems and heart-shaped light green leaves. Brushing your hand against it can make you throw up from the pain. Using it as toilet paper has made people shoot themselves. This plant will ruin you.
Apply heat to DNA and it becomes useless. Try to set it on fire and suddenly you rediscover a use for it. Deoxyribonucleic acid is a great way to put out a flame. To understand why this is, we can look at its chemistry.
In the 1930s, it was generally accepted that the body needed sodium to function, but no one had studied what broke down when the sodium in a person's diet was removed. One researcher researcher and four volunteers decided to find out. It was awful.