March’s Question: After attending a toga party, David had to wash his toga. Being a civilized man, he used bleach. In ancient Rome, clothing was cleaned with something we would consider appallingly filthy: urine. Why would the Romans do this?
The chemistry question of the month provides students with the chance to apply scientific thinking and knowledge of chemistry to everyday scenarios. Through the monthly questions, the American Chemical Society (ACS) Student Chapter hopes to make apparent the relationship between chemistry and the world around us.
The first two contenders with the best responses to the question will be awarded $10 gift cards to either Target or Starbucks. Answers should be submitted to the chemistry office, located in Griffith Hall, by March 5.
Many USciences students enroll in at least a few chemistry classes, so the questions are designed with the general student population in mind. Juniors and seniors in the chemistry and biochemistry department are not eligible to participate.
Last month, Sarah Riggs PhSci’12 and Daniel Boulos PharmD’15, submitted winning answers to February’s question: David participated in the atomic wings challenge and would like relieve the burning sensation in his mouth. He requests the server to deliver him milk. Why?
The appropriate answer explained the burning sensation was caused by the chemical capsaicin. David requested milk because capsaicin is lipid soluble. Polar solvents, such as water, would exacerbate the burning sensation because they wash away other compounds in atomic wing sauce, leaving capsaicin coated on the tongue.
“We expect the chemistry of the month question to stimulate an interest in chemistry on campus and, in particular, to simulate looking at various aspects of our lives and nature through the lenses of chemistry, and science in general,” said Vojislava Pophristic, PhD, chemistry and biochemistry department chair.
The contest is designed by the American Chemical Society (ACS) Student Chapter, led by Hiu Yan Cheng C’12 and Christian Tooley C’12, chemistry seniors and ACS officers.
Stay tuned to the screens around campus to see March's question!