It’s Christmas 2021, everyone. Can you believe it? It feels like it’s been 2020 for about five years now, doesn’t it? Anyway, regular followers will know that each year in December I write a ‘Chronicles’ post summing up everything I’ve written about over the year.
But before I get into my time machine and set the dial for January 2021 (the sacrifices I make in the name of science communication, honestly), a quick reminder to check out the #272Sci tag on Twitter for tiny science updates and, for Christmas, #272SciXmas. As I write this, I’ve just done eggnog – yum! Oh, and one more thing, if you’re looking for something to keep the children, and yourself, occupied over the holiday break, why not download some STEM Heroes colouring pages, courtesy of Dr Kit Chapman?
So, without further ado, let’s talk about January! Covid-19 was, and of course is, still very much on everyone’s minds, and this post featured talk of a nasal spray designed to be used regularly to prevent infection. What happened to that, you ask? Well, it hasn’t disappeared! It looks as though some countries are now at the stage of approving sales of the spray, so it may begin to become available sometime in 2022…
February featured light, vision and carrots, which is a less idiosyncratic combination than you might imagine. The Crash Course Organic Chemistry episode that I’d been working on at the time has also just made its way into the world. Check it out!
In March, following some online debate about Covid-19 vaccine ingredients, I took a look at chemical names. Lots of chemicals have similar-sounding names, and there are good reasons for that, but it doesn’t mean they have the same properties. Be wary of anyone trying to imply otherwise…
This brings us to April, which is when the Viburnum carlesii bush outside my front door always flowers, bringing its gorgeous scent with it. This was one of my favourite sorts of posts, where chemistry turns out to be a path between umpteen topics – in this case, flowers, butterflies, fragrance molecules, an anaesthetic used to help Covid patients, history, and back to chemical names again. And it gave me an excuse to include lots of butterfly photos, too!
Continuing the nature theme, in May my Dad came across some swarming bees, so it was time to talk about them. Do you know why it might be unwise to eat bananas around bees? You will if you read this!
In June I was a little pushed for time, and so it ended up being a summary of things I’d written recently for The Skeptic, Chemistry World, Crash Course Organic Chemistry and DK Super Science. It’s awesome to see projects out in the wild.
It was back to COVID-19 science in July, as I (along with Mark Lorch) took a look at lateral flow tests, and reports of teenagers finding ways to get fake positive results…
For August I wrote about something I was surprised I hadn’t covered before – neem oil. My orchids are doing rather well, since you ask 😉 One of them is just about to flower again!
Following a little Twitter spat (always a good source of inspiration) September became about how chemists identify molecules, and the skill involved in putting the pieces of these chemical jigsaws together. To mash together a few different quotes: just because you don’t know how it’s done, doesn’t mean someone else is using nefarious magic.
October felt like the time for something light-hearted, so I turned the spotlight on ‘dog rocks’. Can putting rocks in your dog’s water bowl protect your lawn? Short answer: no. But it was fun pulling this one apart. Oh, and as I mentioned at the start, October was also when I started #272Sci – if you’re a Twitter user, check that out!
Which brings us to November, back to nature, and what might just be one of my all-time favourites: freezing fungal farts! Have a read – I really enjoyed this one.
And now it’s December! Along with Andy Brunning of Compound Interest I’ve been making daily advent-themed science tweets. As I said in the November post, I intend to wind up the regular monthly blog posts this year. Life has got busy, but it’s all good – I’m excited to see what 2022 will bring. Speaking of which, please do consider supporting the Great Explanations book project here!
But I’m not quite done, because after this I’ll be on post 150, and that seems like a milestone I shouldn’t miss. So, for New Year, I’ll be back with a ‘all time most popular’ post. Watch this space.
In the meantime, I wish you a lovely, and peaceful, Christmas!
Since you’re here, why not take a look at my fiction blog: the fiction phial? And you can also find me doing various flavours of editor-type-stuff at the horror podcast, PseudoPod.org – so head over there, too!
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