Read about the movers and shakers of the chemical industry in October 2023.
We have to ask ourselves: What on Earth went wrong? In his book, economist Gary Smith lines up the three suspects he blames for the growing distrust in science: disinformation, data torturing and data mining. In a sad irony, all three are the product of the science and technology advances they are now putting at risk.
The research findings reported in this book are conveyed in the form of 14 chapters, all of which have more than one author, making an overall number of 37 contributing authors. Each chapter adopts the formal style of an academic paper with a predilection for specialised terminology and copious references.
Blueberries growing fungus are typically destined for the compost bin, but for a team of researchers in the US, they could provide the key to tackling the unsustainable use of insecticides. In a new study, published in the SCI journal Pest Management Science, researchers explored how blueberries infected with the fungus Colletotrichum fioriniae emit odours that repel spotted-wing drosophila (SWD) – a fruit fly that is a destructive pest of berries and cherries. By recreating the aroma of the fungus, they were able to trick the flies into perceiving healthy fruit as infected.
CRISPR-Cas9 editing earned its discoverers, Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, a Nobel prize in 2020, however, there have been concerns over sections of chromosomal loss, which has been shown to occur at a low rate across all potential genomic targets and chromosomes. The loss has been identified in human T cells and engineered CAR T cells for clinical use.
The perception that the chemical industry is not central to achieving net zero targets will affect companies’ ability to recruit skilled staff, according to the Cogent Skills report: A greenprint on skills for the low carbon industries. The extent of the challenge is shown by the 48% drop in new apprenticeships since 2015-16.
The highest prize in chemistry has been awarded to three scientists who pioneered research into quantum dots – semiconductor nanocrystals measuring a few nanometres, with applications ranging from solar cell technology to medical imaging. Moungi Bawendi (MIT, US), Louis Brus (Columbia University, US) and Alexei Ekimov (Nanocrystals Technology, US) were announced as the joint recipients of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on 4 October, 2023.
A chameleon-inspired coating that changes colour depending on the weather could save energy and help to keep homes warm or cool across the seasons. The Namaqua chameleon, which dwells in the desert regions of southern Africa, adjusts its body temperature by altering its skin colour to reflect more or less sunlight. Inspired by this adaptation, researchers created a coating that turns white – and reflects more sunlight – at temperatures above 25°C but turns black to absorb more heat at lower temperatures. Conventional paints that cool buildings by reflecting sunlight are useful in the summer but also increase energy consumption during the winter, says Yan Dong, an engineer at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China.
In a recent study, an international team of researchers introduced RETFound, an AI tool to diagnose multiple health conditions from eye scans. The technology outperforms existing AI disease-detection models.
Microbial teamwork could be the answer to recycling a common plastic waste into valuable chemicals. Two engineered strains of a soil bacterium deal better with the two products from the hydrolysis of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, according to researchers in the US.