Chemistry in its Element

  • Orange and black striped caterpillars of the Cinnabar Moth, on wild yellow ragwort flowers

    Ragwort alkaloids

    19 April 2017

    Pyrrolizidine alkaloids from Ragworts and other plants are popular with pollinators but a potent poison to livestock, as Mike Freemantle discovers

  • Will o' the wisp over the fens


    12 April 2017

    Will o’ the wisp, ignis fatuus, hitodama or the min-min light, ghostly balls of fire are common in folklore around the world. Kit Chapman explores the compound that may be the chemical cause of these mysterious lights

  • Vintage Japanese black lacquer tea caddy with auspicious gold makie bamboo forest design, used in the Japanese Tea Ceremony


    5 April 2017

    The compounds that link poison ivy with beautiful lacquerwork

  • Packet of mercurous chloride tablets, Kassel, Germany, 1914-1917

    Mercuric chloride

    29 March 2017

    From an early ointment for spots to a medicine for syphilitic Victorians

  • A cat, playing on a purpose built cat tower


    22 March 2017

    The catnip compound that felines go crazy for could have exciting uses for humans, too, as Kat Arney finds out

  • Illustration of human sperm

    Spermine and spermidine

    15 March 2017

    Kiki Sanford explores how polyamines found in semen could be related to a long and healthy life

  • Bandaged British World War 1 soldiers in a battlefield trench, 1915-1918.


    8 March 2017

    How chemical weapons inspired the birth of cancer chemotherapy

  • A single layer of molybdenum disulfide

    Molybdenum disulfide

    1 March 2017

    Brian Clegg discovers the compound that makes the world’s smallest transistors

  • A skeletal form mixes ingredients for sweets, surrounded by vats of dangerous chemicals

    Arsenic trioxide

    22 February 2017

    How a ‘daft’ pharmacy mix up led to a series of poisonings in Victorian Britain

  • Colin Firth as Mr Darcy


    15 February 2017

    Jane Austen’s Mr Darcy lends his name to a pheromone that lets mice feel the love