Honors Chemistry Abstracts

ABSTRACT FORMAT. Dr. Gepner. Type your abstract in this exact format, including a title in bold caps, your name in upper and lower case bold, and a paragraph summarizing the key points of your report. Do not use the first person. The paragraph should be at least ¼ of a page in length and no longer than ½ page. It must be typewritten single-spaced. When your abstract is completed and in the correct format, copy and paste it in the space below, leaving one return between your abstract and the one before.


ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS. Rosalind Mowitt. Artificial sweeteners, particularly Aspartame and Sucralose, are inorganic, low-calorie compounds with interesting histories and roles in the national market for sweeteners. Often by accident, artificial sweeteners are discovered as the result of odd chemical combinations that produce a sweet taste. Aspartame, for example, is the combination of two amino acids, where as Sucralose is the result of the replacement of hydroxyl groups by Chlorine atoms in Sucrose. As they are unnatural, they often pass through the digestive system without being absorbed. This has lead to fear about the body’s response to a chemically-engineered food additive. Hundreds of studies, however, support the safety of the five artificial sweeteners on the highly competitive, low calorie-obsessed sweetener market. In conclusion, there is scientific evidence to support the safety of the available sweeteners, though a constant consumption of low-calorie sweeteners is not healthy.

Keywords: Sucralose; Aspartame; Sucrose; Halogen; Amino Acid; Artificial; FDA (Food and Drug Administration)

HEAVY METAL POISONING: MERCURY AND LEAD. Hannah Mack. Heavy metals, characterized by their higher densities, exist naturally and are commonly used in many occupations. Certain heavy metals like mercury and lead can be very toxic when absorbed in sufficient amounts. By inhibiting enzymes, mercury and lead cause extensive damage to the nervous system, brain, liver, and kidneys. Though the two metals are less widely used in manufacturing today, historically, they have harmed many through occupational absorption, most notably in the hat making industry and in the production of paints and enamels. Though treatment for poisoning, chelating, can be successful if caught early on, the cumulative nature of the two metals causes severe damage before symptoms can be noticed. Poisoning from either metal can detected from symptoms as wide ranging as gingivitis, tremors, fatigue, difficulties with concentration and memory, and abdominal pain. The many current sources of mercury and lead poisoning such as contaminated foods, fuels, paints, and alternative medicine products demonstrate the continued prevalence of the two toxic metals.

Keywords: Mercury; Lead; Heavy Metal; Cumulative; Toxicity; Chelating

CAFFEINE: THE WORLD’S MOST POPULAR DRUG. Zac Brown. Caffeine is the world’s most popular drug, consumed by almost 90% of the world’s population. Caffeine was discovered in 1820 by a German man named Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge. Caffeine is a member of the methylxanthines. 1,3,7- Trimethylxanthine is its chemical name and its molecular formula is C8 H10 N4 O2. Caffeine exists in 60 different plant species worldwide and is used for self defense because it can cause some insects to become infertile. Inside of a person’s body caffeine attaches to adenosine receptors and alters the brains activity. Caffeine has many positive and negative effects on the body, it causes people to become more energized and attentive but also causes panic attacks and anxiety along with many other things. Caffeine is highly addicting and can cause headaches as well other withdrawal symptoms. Caffeine, the world’s popular drug has many effects on the body and a deep history on this planet.

Thalidomide: A research project on its history, chemical structure, and uses in modern medicine. By Harrison Hite. Thalidomide was developed in Germany and used as a treatment for morning sickness in pregnant women until it was discovered to cause teratogenic birth defects. However, FDA inspector Frances Oldham Kelsey blocked the drug’s use in the United States, and it was only used in Europe and Africa. Kelsey received a medal from President John F. Kennedy for blocking its use. Thalidomide is composed of mirror image isomers, one which acts as a sleep aid and prevents morning sickness, one which causes birth defects and other harmful side effects. Both isomers are thought to act by intercalating between the G-C strands of DNA. Research into Analogs and derivatives is being done, but no substitutes have yet been developed.

Keywords: Intercalation; enantiomers

ANIMAL POISONS. Paige Owens-Kurtz. Poisonous and venomous animals have a distinct evolutionary advantage against predators because of the toxins they contain, which are harmful or even lethal to other animals. Most toxins are made up of proteins, but a few are instead composed of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen. Batrachotoxin, found in poison dart frogs, is steroidal in structure, and attacks the heart muscle, often leading to a cardiac arrest. Tetrodotoxin and saxitoxin, examples of potent non-protein toxins, are found in the blue-ringed octopus, the pufferfish, and a variety of other animals. These animals have a symbiotic relationship with algae that contains bacteria which synthsize the toxin. When eaten, or injected into the bloodstream via a bite, these toxins attack the nervous system, and inhibit neurons from firing. Becuase they block the electrical movement in neurons, scientists use tetrodotoxin in research.

Keywords: Poison; Toxin; Synthesis; Steriodal; Batrachotoxin; Cardiotoxin; Tetrodotoxin; Saxitoxin; Neurotoxin; Hydroxyl; Symbiotic Relationship

THEOBROMA: FOOD OF THE GODS. Isabella McCormick. Chocolate is derived from the cocoa bean, which is harvested from the fruit of the cocoa tree. Cocoa first became popular among the Aztecs and Mayans during the 16th Century, and spread throughout Europe when Spanish explorers brought the bean back to their homeland. It was not until the 1800s, when cocoa was mixed with milk and sugar, that it was transformed into the popular substance we know today. After harvesting, the beans are shipped to a factory, where they are changed into chocolate through a series of chemical reactions that form chocolate’s essential flavors. There are three main types of chocolate, but dark chocolate is the healthiest because of its high level of antioxidants. Some myths about chocolate are that it is addictive, causes heart disease, acne, high cholesterol, headaches and migraines, or is allergic, but none of these myths are accurate. Chocolate may in fact help with health complications because it contains a special type of antioxidant, a flavonoid called epichatechin. Epichatechin has many beneficial affects on the body, including the prevention of blood clots. In the brain, chocolate triggers the release of chemicals that make you feel happy. But remember, these health benefits only arise if chocolate is eaten in moderation. When consumed in high quantities, chocolate can harm one’s health.

Key words: Cocoa bean, cocoa tree, dark chocolate, antioxidants, flavonoids, epichatechin.

THE CHEMISTRY OF SWEETS. David McVeety. Food processes use fats and oils not only for nutrition, but to aid change in mixtures, and in the specific components of mixtures. Fatty acids are esters of long carboxylic acids. Nutrients are altered when toasted, baked, blanched, or pasteurized because many are unstable and thus react with oxygen, light, heat or other components of the mixtures of which they are a part. Fatty acids easily oxidize because of the long hydrocarbon carboxylic chains that make them up. Because foods that are composed primarily of fats and or oils oxidize easily, antioxidants are added to foods in order to prevent oxidation and bacterial growth. Although antioxidants help extend the amount of time that fatty acid heavy compounds can be used, there was controversy over whether or not ingesting them could lead to disease. During the process of baking, carbon dioxide, created by baking soda or powder, helps mixtures rise. In response to heat, gluten expands to many times its initial volume and stabilizes mixtures. During the creation of food, physical and chemical changes alter the characteristics and chemical structure of the substances in mixtures.

Keywords: Fatty acids, antioxidants, ice cream, cookies, oxidation, fat phases

NANOTECHNOLOGY . Devon Sandberg . Nanotechnology is a new field in chemistry, in which discoveries are being made daily. Nanotechnology, also known as molecular engineering, concerns itself with the manipulation of matter on the molecular level, to create microscopic tools for myriad purposes. Richard Feynman was the first to propose and advocate nanotechnology in a now-famous speech at Caltech, “There’s plenty of room at the bottom. Carbon nanotubes, or CNTs, are the most researched nano-material. As fullerenes, CNTs are pure carbon allotropes that form an extremely thin but arbitrarily long cylinder, which can be adjusted in different ways depending on the ultimate purpose of the CNT in question. The hollow structure of CNTs allows atoms, molecules, and even other fullerenes (including another CNT to produce a multi-walled nanotube) to fit into the CNT. Therefore, CNTs may be used as proton channels, or nano-scale wires and transistors. Nanotechnology has been used in many theoretical models for important or lucrative purposes, including anti-pollution, medical, and energy related fields. However, while there are advocates and benefits of nanotechnology, there are also many concerns and potential negatives. As a nascent branch of chemistry, nanotechnology has not yet entered into mainstream production, but to project into the future growth of the field, nanotechnology will probably impact the daily lives of people in the developed world in a decade or less.

Keywords: Nanotechnology, Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs), fullerenes, respirocytes, molecular engineering

BLACK GOLD: THE FUELS OF YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND TOMORROW. Harry G. LaVercombe. A PowerPoint discussing the creation of oil and its progression in molecular make-up, and assesses how it is made and how its form has been “selected”. The presentation involves a lot of chemical make-up, such as the structures of lead additives and hydrocarbons in gasoline, as well as methods of creating gas involving physical properties of elements such as boiling points due to their intermolecular forces. Gas, as it turns out, started as a very inefficient source of fuel with highly deadly emissions, has now become much better with the addition of methanol, and may soon become healthier for the world with the introduction of ethanol, while it is made from a nine step process that finds, collects, and refines the product into what goes into cars. It displays the reasons gas is how it is today and tracks its progress from a relatively deadly, inefficient source of energy to the much more effective one that used today, and could show a new chance at progression by showing mistakes and ideas already explored in the past.

Keywords: Fuel; Gasoline; Cars/Automobiles; Crude Oil/Petroleum; E85

THE PROCESS OF MAKING WINE AND BRANDY. Danny Goldfarb. Wine and brandy are made through fermentation and distillation. Many scientists have experimented with the process of fermentation by figuring out the chemical equations of different fermentations. Also scientists experiment with yeasts to see which are more productive and what type of fermentation they undergo. The sugars in grape juice are converted into ethanol and sugar during the process of fermentation. During wine making, yeast is added to grape juice which converts the grape juice's sugars into alcohol. The amount of time of fermentation affects the alcohol content and sugar content. Also leaving the skin of the grapes in or out affects color and taste. After the wine is aged, it can be distilled through fractional distillation. Fractional distillation occurs easily because of the large difference of the boiling points between water and ethanol. After wine and Brandy are produced they are aged in wooden caskets usually made out of oak. As wine ages its alcohol content increases. After they are aged, the wine or brandy are poured into bottles, corked and are later sold.

Keywords: Fermentation, distillation, boiling point

FLAVOR CHEMISTRY. Steven Qian. Different flavors show common trends when it comes to the chemical compounds that make them up. Flavor is primarily affected by the senses of taste and smell. The five tastes one experiences are sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami, whose occurrence depends on the presence of certain chemical compounds. Two prominent flavor additives include monosodium glutamate (MSG), and vanillin. MSG is used to enhance the salty and savory flavors of food and targets the sense of taste. While there are many health concerns regarding MSG, studies have shown that it is overall safe to consume. Vanillin, unlike MSG, displays its most of its flavorful effects through its aroma. It is different from vanilla in that vanillin is only one of the many compounds that make up vanilla. Vanillin is now most commonly seen in the market as a part of ice cream and chocolate. In conclusion, chemical compounds show patterns in their effect on flavor and their effect on taste and smell contribute equally to the sensation of flavor.

Keywords: Flavor, Taste, Smell, Monosodium Glutamate, Vanillin.

Methadone: The Legal Opiate. Anne Walli. The purpose of this research was to study a topic that relates to chemistry. The presentation showed the chemical formula and structure, molecular structure, and organic name of Methadone. This topic involved finding out about opiates in general and then studying Methadone specifically based on the general knowledge. The project investigates the different effects of opiates and the reasons opiates are so addictive. It states that Methadone is primarily used as a recovery drug for Heroin addicts and then compares the effects and structures of Heroin and Methadone. Generally this project explores the chemical nature of opiates, specifically Methadone, and the physical effects opiates have on a person’s body. The project overall argues on the side of Methadone treatment, showing the positive side to recovery using Methadone.

Keywords: narcotics, sedatives, opiates, synthetic, addiction, organic name, structures

NSAIDS: NONSTEROIDAL ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DRUGS. Madeline Umscheid. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are commonly used as alternatives to steroidal drugs for their anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anticoagulant, and antipyretic properties. NSAIDs, specifically salicyclic acid (the precursor to modern aspirin), have been used in medicine for more than two millennia. NSAIDs work by inhibiting cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes which catalyze the reaction that creates prostaglandins, which are involved in sending pain messages to the brain. There are different types of cyclooxygenases; NSAIDs target COX-1 and COX-2. Different types of NSAIDs inhibit COX-1 and COX-2 differently. Traditional NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen inhibit both COX-1 and COX-2 indiscriminately. Low-dose aspirin, used for cardio protection, generally targets COX-1 which tends to be associated with anticoagulant properties. Unfortunately, COX-1 is also associated with gastrointestinal side effects, so scientists developed COX-2 selective NSAIDs, or coxibs, such as rofecoxib (Vioxx) and celecoxib (Celebrex). Disappointingly, studies have related these drugs to heart disease. Scientists believe that this is because interfering with COX-2 causes coagulation. Overall, NSAIDs are useful drugs with many uses, although they should be used with care to avoid potentially dangerous side effects.

Keywords: NSAIDs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, cyclooxygenase enzymes, prostaglandins, analgesic, antipyretic, anticoagulant