Michael Smith arrives in his office wearing his usual shabby old sweater and trousers that long ago should have been sent to a charity like the Salvation Army. You would never guess that just a few days before he had been awarded half a million dollars, his share of the 1993 Nobel Prize in chemistry. Smith passes by a wall of shallow shelves jammed full of medals, awards and plaques for prizes he...

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On cold nights Florida farmers spray oranges with water which quickly freezes into ice on the oranges. How would this protect the oranges from freezing?

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In the news

Unlocking the secrets of amber’s toughness

July 12, 2014

Amber is fossilized tree sap, an organic polymer that lasts millions of years, far longer than any plastic. A new analysis technique delveloped by scientists at the Canadian Conservation Institute in Ottawa explains how amber achieves its strength and durability, and could help humans mimic it in their own materials.  Scientists have been able to isolate the building blocks – including communol, ozol and succinic acid. Now we are beginning to understand how exactly how they fit together. More at the Science Media Centre of Canada.

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