Molecular Matters

Element of the Week – Carbon

Michael Edmonds Jan 14, 2014

In many respects, elements are the fundamental components of the universe to a chemist. While physicists bombard atoms into progressively smaller particles using progressively larger pieces of equipment, most chemists continue to be fascinated by the myriad of arrangements formed when atoms bond and interact with each other. There are less than 100 naturally occurring elements, however, together they form … Read More


Michael Edmonds Jan 04, 2014

I love puzzles – word games, whodunnits, board games and mazes. It is a great way to test skills such as vocabulary, lateral thinking, spatial awareness, observation and strategy – all skills which are relevant in science. While visiting my parents over Christmas I was reminded of my interest in puzzles so thought I might share a few with you. Read More


Do you believe in Climate Change?

Michael Edmonds Jan 02, 2014

A while ago I was chastised by a reader of the NZ Skeptic for making the following statement in the magazine. “I believe there is more than enough evidence to accept that human actions are playing a significant role in climate change.” In using the word “believe” I was told that this was “faith not science.” My critic is probably … Read More


Fox News and GMO's

Michael Edmonds Dec 31, 2013

I saw this clip on TV this morning (I didn’t realise what we see from Fox on Sky is a month old) and was “impressed” with the degree of muddled science and scaremongering they managed to put into such a short clip.   inaccurate science (confusing viruses, bacteria with genes) – check oversimplification of the science (“food made in … Read More


Sampling a Cell without Killing it – Nanobiopsies

Michael Edmonds Dec 31, 2013

I’ve just read a fascinating article in December 16th edition of Chemical & Engineering News* by Louisa Dalton which describes a new technique to sample cell material without killing the cell. This new method, developed by biomolecular engineer, Nader Pourmand, and colleagues at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is able to withdraw approximately 50 femtolitres from the cell using … Read More

Modern Medicine & Family Histories

Michael Edmonds Dec 29, 2013

Modern medical treatments, including vaccines, have helped extend life expectancies and quality of life through the prevention and treatment of disease. This fact is sometimes missed by those who oppose vaccines, criticise modern medicine and promote dubious “alternative” therapies. One reason for not seeing the benefits of modern medicine is that we take much of it for granted, and seldom … Read More


The 10 "False Assumptions" of Modern Science?

Michael Edmonds Dec 08, 2013

Last week I came across a magazine I hadn’t seen before in Paperplus. Called “New Dawn” it purports to be “the No. 1 magazine for people who think for themselves” and covers a range of topics such as the afterlife, psychic healing with pets, astrology and conspiracy theories. Amidst this hodge podge of muddled thinking was an article by … Read More


Problem Based Learning in Chemistry

Michael Edmonds Dec 05, 2013

One of the plenary speakers at the NZIC conference this week was Professor Tina Overton from the Chemistry department at the University of Hull. We were lucky enough to have Professor Overton speak to us several times and she is a strong advocate of active learning, in particular, problem based learning. In her coursework Professor Overton provides students with open … Read More

A "GoogleMAP" of Microbes

Michael Edmonds Dec 05, 2013

This week I attended the 2013 New Zealand Institute of Chemistry conference in Wellington which was great. There were a some fantastic talks and probably the most memorable for me was a talk by Professor Pieter Dorrestein from the University of California, San Diego. The title of the talk was “A GoogleMAP”-type molecular map of microbes – from culture to … Read More