Wonders of Chemistry: 40 Remarkable Facts About Chemical Compounds

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1Opiorphin

Opiorphin

Human saliva contains a chemical compound called Opiorphin, which is six times more powerful than Morphine as a painkiller.


2. The chemical name for a protein named ‘titin’ is approximately 189,819 letters. It is the world’s longest word and it takes over 3 hours to pronounce.


3. A bittering agent named Denatonium Benzoate is applied to Nintendo Switch to discourage people from putting them in their mouths.


4. Corexit is the chemical dispersant which was used to "clean" the BP oil spill. It is known to cause high levels of toxicity in humans leading to lung damage, cancer, and birth defects. Corexit is still the go-to chemical for oil spills with no policies banning it in the US.


5. Chlorine trifluoride (ClF3) is a chemical which is highly toxic, corrosive, and incredibly reactive with practically every element on the planet. The chemical is rather useful as a high-energy fluorinating agent or incendiary material. It is so flammable that it can set virtually anything on fire.


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6Tributyltin

Tributyltin

A chemical named tributyltin (TBT) was once used as an anti-fouling agent, being applied to the hulls of ocean going vessels. It is highly toxic to many marine organisms and caused female sea snails to grow penises and explode. Due to its adverse marine affects it was banned in the 1990s.


7. Violet flowers contain a chemical called ionine which desensitizes the nose and sense of smell temporarily.


8. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs due to a compound called ‘Theobromine’ which is present in it. Dogs and other animals metabolize the compound slower, so they are more susceptible to theobromine poisoning (chocolate poisoning or cocoa poisoning).


9. Artichokes contain a compound called cynarine and it makes other foods paired with it taste sweeter. Apparently, this is the bane of sommeliers.


10. Some coffee brands that make decaf coffee use a chemical solvent called “methylene chloride” a.k.a. Dichloromethane (DCM), in the process to remove caffeine from the beans. Though it is a known cancer-causing agent, it evaporates and dissipates after decaffeination. It doesn’t remain in the final product.


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11Acacias Trees' Ethylene

Acacias Trees' Ethylene

Acacias trees whose leaves are eaten by giraffes, release an airborne chemical called ‘Ethylene’. Ethylene alerts nearby acacia trees to produce tannin, a toxin that makes the leaves poisonous and lethal if over-consumed. Giraffes avoid this by eating trees downwind from other trees.


12. The Bhopal Gas Tragedy which took place in India is considered to be the world’s worst industrial disaster. A Union Carbide plant in Bhopal leaked 40 tons of methyl-isocyanate (500x deadlier than hydrogen cyanide) in the midnight hours of December 3, 1984. More than 16000 people died and 500,000 people suffered long-term effects.


13. In 1921, 450 tons of Ammonium Nitrate exploded at a chemical plant in Germany, killing 561 people. The plant had been using dynamite to break up the stockpile for years, believing it was Ammonium Nitrate Sulphate. Only 1 other NH4NO3 accident had more casualties - Texas City, Texas, USA in 1947.


14. Denatonium Benzoate, which is considered to be the bitterest compound known to science, is used to give its bitter taste to toxic products to make them very difficult to ingest. It is used in antifreeze, detergents, floor cleaners, paint strippers, and toilet cleaners.


15. A chemical compound called betanin is what gives beetroot its red color. If your body has difficulty breaking down this compound, it can cause red coloration of the urine, a condition known as Beeturia. 10 to 14% of the human population suffers from this condition.


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16Dimethylheptylpyran

Dimethylheptylpyran

Dimethylheptylpyran (DMHP) is a super potent synthetic version of marijuana, which was developed by the US military in 1949 to be used as a chemical weapon. Just 1 mg of the substance can have effects lasting for 3 days.


17. Moscovium (Element 115) is an extremely radioactive element that was first synthesized in 2003 by a team of Russian and American Scientists. Prior to the 1980s, it was touted by UFO enthusiasts as a gravity wave generator that could allow for space propulsion.


18. A chemical element called Americium was originally named Pandemonium due to the difficulty in its discovery and because Pandemonium meant Hell (its Greek word origin and the capital of Hell in Milton’s “Paradise Lost”). Today, Americium’s most common use is in smoke detectors to detect fire.


19. 2,4-Dinitrophenol (DNP) is an organic compound which causes rapid weight loss in humans. It’s being studied as a potential treatment for obesity, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s diseases, and epilepsy. In the 1930s, it was prescribed to 100,000 people in the US. It was discontinued after 2 people used 10 times the recommended dose and died.


20. Resiniferatoxin is a chemical compound that’s 1000 times hotter than capsaicin. It is a naturally occurring chemical that’s found in cacti. Ingestion of it can cause severe swelling, permanent loss of sensation, serious injury, or even death.


21Fluoroantimonic Acid

Fluoroantimonic Acid

The world's strongest superacid is fluoroantimonic acid (HSbF6). It has a pH of -31.3 and it is 100,000 billion billion billion times more potent than stomach acid. This makes it extremely corrosive. It releases highly toxic vapors and can dissolve all organic compounds such as everything in a human body in few seconds.


22. Sporopollenin is one of the toughest natural biopolymers in the world. It is so resistant that it can't be studied using normal enzymes or chemical reagents, and it can stay intact in sediment for more than 500 million years.


23. Lead Acid batteries can produce Hydrogen Sulphide gas (H2S). It is poisonous, flammable, and smells like rotten eggs. Most cars have lead-acid batteries, including electric cars.


24. Though Nutmeg is a common cooking spice known for its warm flavor and sweet taste, it contains a hallucinogenic compound called myristicin. Consumption of 15 g of grounded nutmeg is enough to cause hallucinations, dizziness and memory impairment.


25. The name of the popular soft drink ‘7 Up’ was derived from the atomic mass of Lithium which is 7. 7 Up contained a chemical compound called Lithium Citrate, which is a known anti-depressant and mood stabilizer.

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