Monday, April 13, 2009

Media's Role in Performance-Enhancing Drugs

Our society has become a media-driven one in which people seem to be influenced by what they see in television. The media dictates and reinforces acceptable social norms and behavior, which has created a huge problem in terms of performance-enhancing drugs. Entertainment, news, and advertising are three aspects of television that play a role in shaping the way people view our society. In the entertainment aspect, people watch television and see attractive-looking people with great bodies while they’re lifting weights or in a pool, which influences people into wanting to be like that. Seeing attractive people motivates viewers into purchasing supplements even if they don’t know anything about them. In the news, there are so many reports of so many athletes, famous and non-famous, who use performance-enhancing drugs. The reports may say how the athletes are getting punished for using performance-enhancing drugs, but they also may mention that there are many athletes who don’t get caught. Athletes, especially young ones, see this and thing to themselves that if professional athletes can get away with using performance-enhancing drugs and make millions of dollars, then they can do it too, which creates many problems. In advertising, supplements use men and women with ripped bodies and words that attract people like “10 pounds of muscle in just weeks.” People believe in this and don’t find the need to research what they put into their bodies. This becomes a problem for the health of people who are influenced by these three things and a problem for society.

Unfamiliar Terms:

I love this article, because it is very educational and it helps people understand the motives behind what they see in television. When people watch television, they are so unconscious about what commercials and advertisements are trying to do. They are trying to convince people to purchase the products by influencing them using words and images that are attractive and it works. It’s not even just television. I subscribe to Men’s Health Magazine and I have learned that supplement companies are in contract with magazines and they both profit off of each other, but I wouldn’t have known this without reading and educating myself about something like this. Athletes, especially young ones, need to get educated about performance-enhancing drugs so that they don’t make decisions that will affect their health negatively.

Blechman, Robert K. Performance Enhancing Drugs. 31 Jan. 2008. 27 Mar. 2009 .

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend!

Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend!
The formation of diamonds occur deep underground in the earth’s mantle under extreme pressure and high temperatures on carbon containing materials. These diamonds are natural uplifted by volcanoes that have erupted. Diamonds that are man-made are also created by using carbon containing materials under high temperatures but are inserted in such molten metals as nickel and iron. The diamonds will crystallize or form crystals inside the molten metals because they are more stable at higher temperatures. A pure and genuine diamond has no color and if a diamond does have a color it is due to an impurity such as a mixture with another substance. The colors we can see on a diamond are a reflection of lights around it. The diamond absorbs the lights, which are then internalized and dispersed as different hues or colors. Although diamonds absorb and reflect light easily they do not conduct electricity very sufficiently. They remain very cool and can be tested for their authenticity by this.

Crystallize- to form crystals

Molten- changed into a liquid form by heat

Graphite- a soft dark carbon that conducts electricity, occurs naturally as a mineral, and is also produced industrially. Use: batteries, lubricants, polishes, electric motors, nuclear reactors, carbon fibers, pencil lead.

Interconvert- the mutual conversion or two or more things

Diamonds have very distinct and distinct characteristics which probably makes them so valuable in the world. Synthetic diamonds seem as though they would not be as valued as naturally occurring diamonds, which leads me to wonder if the marketing for each are different. I also question what they do with impure diamonds. Their ability to reflect up to one sixth of the surrounding light, which gives it a very appealing look. What can I say that is probably why they are a girl’s best friend!

Baird, C., The Formation and Color of Diamonds, Chemistry in Your Life 2nd Ed.,W.H. Freeman and Company, 2006. P. 195-196.

Recycling: Not as Beneficial as We Thought?

Recycling turns out to have it's own environmental problems. According to Baird, landfills are reaching their maximum levels and most countries are opposed to burning the excesses. Some countries have even started to hold legal responsibility to companies for the recollection and recycling of the packaging of their products.

Resistance to recycling comes mainly from the plastics industry. They argue that unused plastic material is cheaper to produce than it is to prepare used plastics for recycling. Contrary to this, environmentalists argue that the plastics industry does not factor in the environemental costs into their price projection of recycling the plastic. They also note that burning some plastics releases more toxic organic compounds and hydrogen chloride (HCl) gas, which readily dissolves in water, can be extremely damaging to human health.

Developed countries utilize recycling abundantly. The most commonly recycled plastics are HDPE, LDPE, and PET. In the late '90s, nearly half of people living in urban areas recycled with programs providing curbside pickup.

So with all this in mind, is recycling still beneficial? Is it something that will help us in our attempts to become more earth-friendly? These are just some of the questions that arise from this reading. There are issues that we must learn to deal with and adapt our methods in order to effectively combat the damage that has already been done.

Baird, Colin. The recycling of plastic is a controversial topic. Chemistry in Your Life. 2nd ed. New York: W. H. Freeman, 2006: 190-91

Smokers Beware of Radon

Although radon may not be as dangerous as some people believe it to be, combined with cigarette smoking, it can be lethal. In the mid 1990’s, 22,000 people died of lung cancer per year. About 14% of these deaths were related to radon exposure indoors. 90% of the people exposed to the radon were also smokers. This led the U.S. National Research Council to conclude that although radon is dangerous under any conditions of exposure, it’s especially dangerous if someone smokes in addition to this exposure. Radon is detected through home test systems that identify large amounts of radon in the basement. Once the radon is revealed, homeowners can either seal off their basement from the rest of the house or re-route the air circulation in their house. Only about 7% of houses in America actually contain high levels of radon. Often times, homeowners in America never notice the radon in their homes since Americans move homes so frequently. Likewise, once they discover the radon they are more likely to move anyways rather than do anything to stop/prevent the problem.
In my opinion, since you never know when you are or are not going to be exposed to radon, more or less you should just not smoke! Only 14% of the deaths of lung cancer were related to radon. Thus we can consider the possible explanation that the remaining percent of people with lung cancer must have contracted it some other way, for instance, through smoking. Another curious thought is: how do scientists know if someone has been exposed to radon or not? Once someone has died, where is the proof that a person was or was not exposed to radon? It’s not as if a track record of homes with radon follows a person around through the duration of his/her life. Also, what about people who were exposed to radon but had no effects from it? The people who were exposed to radon and never suffered a consequence would go completely under the radar as far as exposure. Therefore, while some scientists can easily say and prove that 90% of people who died of radon exposure also smoked, what about the amount of people who smoked and were exposed to radon poisoning but never developed any problems? Or even the people who were exposed to radon alone also never developed any sort of conditions? Therefore, based on these questions that have been left open, further research needs to be conducted in order to study the correlation between being medically affected by radon and smoking.

Baird, Colin. “Is radon dangerous to our health?” Chemistry In Your Life: Second Edition. W.H. Freeman and Company, New York. 2006. P. 631

Breakfast at Tiffany's


Diamonds are created 150-200 meters down in the Earth's mantle. They are made when carbon containing material is subjected to extreme temperatures and pressures. They are then ejected to the surface through volcanoes. Synthetic diamonds, on the other hand, are made by subjecting carbon containing material to high temperatures and pressures in a molten metal such as nickel or iron. The diamond crystallizes in the molten metal. These methods work because although graphite may be stabler at normal conditions, diamond is more stable at high temperature and pressure. These metals are not easy to interconvert because they both have strong bonds that must be first broken in order for the transition to be possible. A pure diamond is completely colorless while those with color tinges in them contain impurities. For instance, a diamond with a yellow tinge usually contains iron oxide as an impurity. These impurities get into the diamond while it is forming. The inherent color of a diamond is determined by the flashes of color it reflects when light hits it from different angles. A diamond reflects one fifth of the light that hits its surface. Glass is only able to reflect four percent of the light. The light that does enter the diamond is dispersed into hues which gives it the rainbow effect. Diamonds are not good conductors of electricity, but they are great conductors of heat. They feel cool to the touch because they conduct the heat away from your fingers. Experts can determine a fake from a real diamond by putting it on their tongue. Real diamonds will feel cool to the touch.


Interconvert- to transition or interchange

Impurity- Inferior component or additive


I never knew this much about diamonds. I knew that diamonds were made when carbon was combined with heat and pressure, but I didn't know that they were ejected from volcanoes or how they were mad synthetically in a lab. The part about how impurities change the color of it was pretty interesting too. Most of the diamonds I have seen in my life have had some tinge of color in them. I just hope my girlfriend doesn't see this article. I know that she wants a pure diamond that isn't made in a lab. Who knows where I'll get the money for that? I do love the fact that pure diamonds give off that rainbow effect when you shine light on them. They definitely are beautiful. I just wish they weren't so expensive!


While owning a diamond ring is nice, it is more interesting to understand the process by which diamonds are made. According to the text, diamonds are made through a process that occurs anywhere from 150 to 200 kilometers within the earth’s mantle. At this level, the carbon containing material that makes up a diamond is under both high temperature and pressure. Interestingly, diamonds are removed from the mantle through the eruption of volcanoes! Other forms of diamonds can be made, although they are synthetic, they appear to look similar. These synthetic diamonds are made similarly to real diamonds, by using carbon-containing material and subjecting it to high temperatures and pressures. Synthetic diamonds are made in molten metals like iron or nickel, which is what crystallizes the diamond. It is common that we can detect synthetic diamonds from real ones, because our skin reacts negatively to synthetic diamonds usually.
While consumers may prefer colored diamonds over the basic, colorless diamonds, it was interesting to learn that diamonds containing color are actually imperfections that were stuck inside of the crystal during its formation. However, this only applies to permanent coloring of diamonds. Diamonds that give off color when held up to light are not impure. Diamonds are also great heat conductors, and this is the reason for the intense coldness felt if touching a diamond. Many diamond specialists will actually place the diamonds on their tongue in order to know whether or not it is real! Lastly, diamonds are not good electricity conductors.
While I personally do not like diamonds, it was interesting to understand how they are made, and how easy it is to make synthetic copies. I do not want a diamond when I am married, I do not find them attractive. It seems as though our society has become obsessed with diamonds because they show a sense of status, and it has become a “fad” to have a diamond ring upon marriage. For this reason, I do not want a diamond! However, I respect whoever chooses to wear diamonds because I understand that receiving a diamond ring is many people’s dream, and it is a personal and sentimental experience for many!

Baird, Colin. Chemistry in Your Life. 2nd Ed, W.H. Freeman and Company, New York. 2006. (195-196)

The Plastic Recycling Debate

In our world, resources are limited and recycling is something that we ask of our society so that we can get the most efficient use of them. Plastic, but not all plastics, is known as a common recyclable material, but there has become a controversial issue. There are numerous reasons why many plastics are now collected from consumers and recycled, and a major reason is the overcrowding of landfills, especially throughout Europe. Even the plastics industry has been resisting the recycling of plastics in some places, because virgin plastic is a low-cost material made from low-cost raw materials, such as natural gas and crude oil. The result is that the amount of energy used to make plastics is very small compared to the amount used to produce aluminum or steel from its raw materials. “The cost of cleaning used plastic and converting it back into its monomers so it can again be polymerized is substantial, compared to the current cost of oil” (Baird 191). There are many people in the plastics industry who argue that the natural disposal method for plastics is to burn them, because the presence of plastics makes the other materials in garbage burn more cleanly and reduces the need for the addition of fossil fuel. This process will create heat energy, which can be utilized. Plastics make up more than a third of the energy content in garbage even though they account for less than 10% of the mass of garbage(Baird 190).

The counterargument by environmentalists is that recycled plastic would be the cheaper choice if environmental impacts were included in determining the costs of virgin materials. Additionally, the combustion of some plastics like PVC produces some toxic compounds and releases HCl, which attacks mucous membranes and damages the lungs when it is inhaled (Baird 190).

Although this debate is controversial, societies, including many developed countries, are embracing the recycling of plastics. “By the late 1990s, about half the urban communities in the US had curbside recycling programs that included plastics” (Baird 190). Consumers can identify the types of plastic collected in their area by the numbers stamped inside of the three-arrow triangle on each plastic object. In the mid-1990s, most of the plastics recycled in the US were HDPE and LDPE (Baird 190).

Unfamiliar Terms:
1) Virgin plastic: the material yet unused and just synthesized from fossil fuels
2) Combustion: rapid oxidation accompanied by heat and, usually, light
3) HDPE: a polyethylene thermoplastic made from petroleum
4) LDPE: a thermoplastic made from oil

Recycling is very important to me for the simple fact that there are limited resources in our world. I normally recycle anything that can be recycled, because I believe I am helping our resources last longer. In terms of plastic, I don’t use a water bottle and throw it in the recycling bin; I reuse water bottles all the time. I’m not positive if that’s unhealthy or not, but as long as I live a healthy lifestyle I’m not too worried about it unless something happens to me. Also, along with recycling, I believe that people should limit their use of resources. If you buy a case of water, then reuse the water bottles (assuming it’s not unhealthy) or even buy a reusable water bottle. If you are in the shower or washing your hands, then turn off the water if you are not using it. In the long run, I believe that we can make the world a better place by living this way.

Baird, Colin. Chemistry in Your Life. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company, 2006. 190-91.

Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend

Diamonds are sometimes called a girls best friend, but how are they made? It all started deep in the earth, around 150-200 kilometers. At this depth carbon-containing materials are subjected to high temperatures and pressures. The diamonds are then thrown out from the eruption of a volcano. Synthetic diamonds are made in molten metals within the volcano, metals that diamonds can be made in are iron or nickel. The diamonds are crystallized in these metals. Unlike the other form of the elemental carbon, graphite, diamond can be stable under higher temperatures and pressure. If a diamond is pure then it is colorless and if there is any color, it is due to the fact that the imperfections were trapped inside when the diamond was made. This should not be confused with any color that the diamond gives off when it is put up to light. Diamonds conduct heat and thus they feel cool to the touch. Some diamond experts can tell a real diamond from a fake by putting it on his/her tongue. If it is real it should be cold, kind of like a metal in your mouth.

Diamonds are great. I never new that they were made in a volcano. Although diamonds may be a girls best friend, I've always heard that they were not actually a rare diamond. That they were actually common, but most of the worlds supply is controlled by one person and that is why they are so expensive. Needless to say, I will probably still buy one at some point in my life. Not I know what to look for when I am buying a diamond. I will make sure to stay away from the fakes.

Baird, Colin. Chemistry in Your Life. 2nd Ed, W.H. Freeman and Company, New York. 2006. (195-196)

The Formation and Color of Diamonds

The article in Chapter 5 from section 5.13 is titled “The formation and Color of Diamonds”. The article explained how diamonds are formed 150-200 kilometers deep in Earth’s mantle from carbon-containing material that is subjected to high temperatures and pressures. The diamonds are taken from the Earth’s mantle along with rock, usually by erupting volcanoes. The article also explains that synthetic diamonds are produced by subjecting carbon-containing substances to very high pressures and temperatures in a molten metal such as nickel or iron. Although the diamond is not real it still crystallizes in the molten metal. This works efficiently because although graphite is stabler than diamond under moderate conditions, diamond is stable even at high temperatures and pressures.
Some new concepts that I did not know before reading this article is that real diamond is colorless. And that any permanent color that a diamond displays is due to impurities that were trapped in the crystal when it was forming. Another concept that I learned is that diamonds do not conduct electricity well, but they are good heat conductors. Finally I learned that experts can distinguish a real diamond from a fake one by placing it on their tongue. The real diamond feels cool like a metal.
I am very surprised as to how it is possible to make synthetic diamonds, and how easy it is for our own body to be able to tell the difference from a fake one. It is almost as if our bodies were designed to be able to distinguish some of the most treasured objects in the world.

Baird Colin, “The Formation and Color of Diamonds” Chemistry in Your Life. Second edition. W.H Freeman and Company, New York.

The Issue of Nuclear Waste

In the Baird text it is mention in Chapter 17.12 that while there are several proposals on how to solve the problem of nuclear waste, the issue currently is still unresolved in finding the best method of disposing the waste. One of the methods in disposing of nuclear waste is by vitrifying the waste or turning into glass where it can be buried underground. A second known method is is to cover it in Pu02, better known as plutonium dioxide and mix it with a uranium oxide to create a mixed oxide fuel that can be used in nuclear power plants. However, there is still no currently accepted ultimately decided method as to disposing of nuclear waste.

Some terms I found interesting in this portion of the text was the oxides used in the second method of waste disposal as I personally think that this method of waste disposal is probably the most practical and realistic due to it having a way of recycling energy. I also think it is very important that we find some other more effective way of solving the waste problem as the dumping of nuclear waste can be a severe health hazard to the communities that surround areas where waste is dumped. But in the meantime if we still have no currently accepted method then at the very least I think we should focus on the mixed oxide fuel method as we can also recycle energy in the process. But ultimately we must find a method sooner or later or we will certainly face the risks of health hazards in many surrounding areas where waste is dumped.

Baird,Colin, Chemistry in Your Life,2nd ed. ,pg. 638

The Recycling of Plastics: The Price of Cheap

The inventor of plastic products could not have foreseen the repercussions of his creation. Landfills across Europe are filling up, and our landfills here aren't looking too good either. We need to find a way to recycle the plastic we consume, since limiting the levels of consumption is out of the question.

The recycling of plastics seems logical, but it is still an issue that is causing great controversy. One of the biggest arguments against the recycling of this material is that virgin plastic is cheap, and remaking it into reusable material is expensive. The cost of this manufacturing would cause a level of accountability to those producing and consuming the plastic in the first place. But the producers and users of plastic don't want to be held accountable for what they're doing to destroy the planet if it means it will cost them something.

Some in the plastics industry argue that it would be better to just burn the plastic and use the heat energy provided. It sounds logical, since we already use energy from burning other forms of fossil fuel such as oil. This argument sounds viable as well, since the presence of plastic makes other garbage burn cleaner. One thing is wrong with this argument, however. The burning of some plastics, such as PVC, lets a number of toxic chemicals into the atmosphere. With current events pointing to the destruction caused by global warming, the last thing we need is to put more toxins into the air.

All we can hope for is that the majority of the developed countries, and undeveloped countries, will follow the benefits that recycling plastics bring.

'The Recycling of Plastics is a Controversial Issue.' Baird, Colin. Chemistry in Your Life. W.H. Freeman and Company. New York: 2006. pgs. 190-191.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Diamonds are a girls best friend...

This article discusses how diamonds are formed and the way in which they get their color. Diamonds come from almost 200 kilometers deep in the earth. Natural diamonds are made from carbon-containing material that experience high temperatures and pressure. Volcanoes help eject the diamonds from the Earth’s mantle. Humans make diamonds by increasing the heat and pressure exerted on carbon-containing materials in molten metal. This is where the diamond crystallizes. Diamonds are very stable at high temperatures and pressures, and that is how they are made. A pure diamond has no color even though we often see colored diamonds. The color on these diamonds comes from impurities that get trapped inside the diamond during formation. Iron oxide causes a yellow color for example. Diamonds can also reflect light very well. Other characteristics of diamonds include good heat conduction, poor electricity conduction, and cool to touch and to taste.

Diamond: a carbon containing material in which all the carbon atoms are bonded to four others in a specific, reoccurring pattern. The structure consists of six-membered rings with each ring also fusing to neighboring rings.

I have always wondered what is so special about diamonds and why they are so expensive. I can see that natural diamonds that come from the earth’s center must be really hard to come by and are worth a lot, but I still do not see why making synthetic diamonds is so fancy and expensive. I have heard a lot about the “blood diamonds” in Africa and I am still a little puzzled on why it is so violent in Africa when it comes to diamonds. I also always thought that colored diamonds were really rare and special, when in actuality a pure, perfect diamond does not have any color because it contains no other materials or impurities. Section 5.12 also helped give me a little bit of an insight on the structure and bonding of diamonds as well. Since Diamonds are bonded together so tightly they are the hardest substance on earth. Diamonds can scratch other materials but not themselves.

Colin Baird. “The formation and color of diamonds”, Chemistry In Your Life. 2nd ed. 2006. 195-196

Colin Baird. “Diamond: Its structure and bonding”, Chemistry In Your Life. 2nd ed. 2006. 194-195