Uncommon chemistry

I talked about ChemSpider in a previous post but if you are serious about finding information on substances there is a chemistry database like no other: SciFinder.

Just last year Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS), a division of the American Chemical Society, announced that the database was moving from the software version to the web. Since then there have been a number of changes to SciFinder, along with a newly redesigned CAS website. For example, there are great interactive SciFinder training videos for all aspects of substance and reaction searches that point out new features.

What sets Scifinder apart is not just the chemical literature, with articles, patents, dissertations, etc., going back over 100 years, it is how they bring together a wealth of information on reactions, structures, properties, and commercial sources, and link it all to substances with unique identifiers, called CAS Registry Numbers. That means that if you come across the name of a compound in an article that you do not recognize you can use the Explore Substances search in SciFinder and find out just what it is.

McGill students, faculty, and staff can now benefit from unlimited access to SciFinder (registration is required) so let me know it works for you.

CAS does have a free search engine for substances of general interest if Common Chemistry is more your thing.

Summer fireworks

Since 1985, LaRonde has been hosting the Montreal International Fireworks Competition, also known as L’International des Feux Loto-Québec.  Tonight at 10pm is this year’s finale.  Every summer over the past few years, I have made the trip to go see them at least once.  My favorite spot to view the fireworks is just outside the Longueil metro station; a lesser-known, quiet spot that is right across the highway from LaRonde.  I had the opportunity to see the fireworks last Friday night and, as always, I was amazed by the spectacular light show.

I recently found this short video about the chemistry involved in making fireworks that features Professor Conkling, the author of the Chemistry of Pyrotechnics: Basic Principles and Theory.

Not the scary kind of spider

I received a box of promotional items at the library from Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Publishing and it served as a reminder to write a few words about ChemSpider.

ChemSpider is a free database that really is easy to use. You may not see yourself as a chemical searcher but I promise that you’ll find interesting facts about chemicals you use everyday. Continue reading

This is your mouse on drugs

I love exploring online learning tools and Mouse Party is a fun one from learn.genetics at the University of Utah. It demonstrates how drugs alter the brain’s reward pathway.

With the researcher’s arm in your control, select a subject from the mice under the effects of different drugs to get a look inside their brain and the mechanisms of drug action.

Oh, and make sure your sound is on…

Image from Genetic Science Learning Center