53 votes
Accepted

Why isn't ethane used for cooking?

Probably the biggest drivers behind using methane as a fuel is that it is abundant in natural gas and is (currently) mostly useless as a chemical feedstock. Ethane makes up a few percent of natural ...
Michael DM Dryden's user avatar
51 votes

Why do we call O2 oxygen?

I think what you may find most helpful is to know a bit of the history of element discovery and atomic theory. The first pure substance containing only the element oxygen to be isolated was dioxygen (...
Nicolau Saker Neto's user avatar
39 votes

Why isn't ethane used for cooking?

In both cases, there appears to be a confusion of terminology between common and technical uses. We commonly use methane and propane for cooking (and home heating), but not ethane. I would expect ...
hBy2Py's user avatar
  • 17.3k
39 votes
Accepted

Does water have a chemical name?

TL;DR IUPAC hasn’t made up their mind, but plain old water appears to be an appropriate name. However, chemical derivatives of water may not be named using water. In Nomenclature of Organic Chemistry:...
orthocresol's user avatar
  • 71.1k
34 votes
Accepted

Is an isobar the same as an isotope?

Not quite, an isotope has same number of protons ($ A- N = Z = \mathrm{constant}$), but a different number of neutrons ($\mathrm N$ varies; e.g. $\ce{^3_\color{red}{1}H}$ and $\ce{^2_\color{red}{1}H}$,...
A.K.'s user avatar
  • 12.5k
33 votes

What is a word for "atom or molecule"?

The classic catch-all term is molecular entity, often abbreviated to just entity. There's a Wikipedia page for it, which references the IUPAC Gold Book entry. Quoting from the latter: Any ...
Nicolau Saker Neto's user avatar
32 votes
Accepted

Does the term 'Cation' always refer to a positively charged particle?

Yes, cations always have a positive charge and anions always have a negative one. The difficulty is that the term cathode and anode do not always correspond to the same pole. The cathode is that pole ...
Jan's user avatar
  • 68k
29 votes
Accepted

Why is ammonium a weak acid if ammonia is a weak base?

First, let’s get the definition of weak and strong acids or bases out of the way. The way I learnt it (and the way everybody seems to be using it) is: $\displaystyle \mathrm{p}K_\mathrm{a} < 0$ ...
Jan's user avatar
  • 68k
28 votes
Accepted

How 'heavy' should an element be, to be a "Heavy Metal"?

There is no true, accepted definition of heavy metal. I was taught to apply the option a metal that has density equal to or over $5.0\ \mathrm{g/cm^3}$. Other variants include a different density ...
Linear Christmas's user avatar
26 votes
Accepted

Is there a difference between equilibrium and steady state?

Yes, equilibrium and steady-state are distinct concepts. A reaction is at equilibrium if reactants and products are both present, the forward and reverse rates are equal and the concentrations don't ...
Karsten's user avatar
  • 40.2k
25 votes
Accepted

A drop of water in a tin of sugar: Which one's the solvent, the sugar or the water?

You could imagine stirring the sugar enough for the water molecules to be uniformly distributed throughout - it would then be homogeneous. However, even then, to refer to the mixture as a solution ...
ChrisA's user avatar
  • 832
23 votes
Accepted

Is beryllium an alkaline earth metal?

There is some disagreement in usage among authors, but IUPAC standard nomenclature approves calling beryllium an alkaline earth metal, as explained on page 51 of IUPAC's last Red Book. In fact, all ...
Self-teaching worker's user avatar
23 votes
Accepted

Why "monoxide" but not "diodine"?

Both "monooxide" and "monoxide" are used in the literature, yet "monoxide" is being used more often (Google Books Ngram Viewer). Although this is an accepted elision, it ...
andselisk's user avatar
  • 37.7k
22 votes
Accepted

Etymology of alanine

In the original German paper [1] Adolf Strecker used Aldehyd-Ammoniak or aldehyde-ammonia as a precursor, that's where the name derives from: Vor einigen Jahren habe ich gezeigt, daſs Aldehyd-...
andselisk's user avatar
  • 37.7k
21 votes

"Estrontium" on poster

"Estrontium" is not used as an element name in any language. It appears that the error traces to a single user by the name of Alejo Miranda (listed as from Ecuador) who has posted a large collection ...
Andrew's user avatar
  • 10.3k
21 votes
Accepted

What is a Herzberg?

Herzberg filtration speed: The time taken to filter $\pu{100 mL}$ water at $\pu{20 ^\circ C}$ through a filter area of $\pu{10 cm2}$ at a constant pressure of $\pu{5 cm}$ water column (Thomas ...
Mathew Mahindaratne's user avatar
20 votes
Accepted

Why is boric acid written as B(OH)3 and not H3BO3?

This is mostly because boric acid is commonly believed to have different acidity mechanism. While common acids generally dissociates $\ce{HNO3 <=> H+ + NO3-}$ boric acid is commonly believed ...
permeakra's user avatar
  • 21.6k
20 votes

What does “to the left” mean?

Yes, "to the left" refers to the left side of an equilibrium expression. Traditionally, the autoionization of water is written as $$\ce{2H2O <=> H3O+ + OH-}$$ When we talk about equilibrium ...
chipbuster's user avatar
  • 3,383
20 votes
Accepted

Can a solvent be a solid?

When most people think of the term solvent, a liquid medium comes to mind; however, in the technical sense of the definition, this does not have to be the case. Here is the definition of a solution ...
Eli Jones's user avatar
  • 2,000
19 votes

Why do most drugs (eg: oxycodone) have seemingly arbitrary names?

The reason why the generic name of most drugs have seemingly little semblance to their chemistry is in the interests of practicality; a doctor would find it easier to write sildenafil (generic name) ...
paracetamol's user avatar
  • 18.7k
19 votes

Is an acid a salt or not?

It is a semantics question with an open ended discussion. If you recall the old problem "How many angels can dance on a pinhead? Medieval problem, this issue here is similar. Basically in chemistry, ...
AChem's user avatar
  • 40.2k
19 votes
Accepted

What is the intuition behind 'mol' as a unit 'symbol'

The symbol mol is due to Ostwald who was a very influential and respected physical chemist more than a century ago. In German, "mole" is "Mol". It is a shortform of Molekül. I ...
AChem's user avatar
  • 40.2k
18 votes

Why is the Vitamin B complex, a "complex"?

It is essentially exactly what your teacher says: the term vitamin B complex is used because the structures assigned a name ‘vitamin Bx’ don’t really have anything in common although they are all ...
Jan's user avatar
  • 68k
18 votes
Accepted

What is the scientific term to describe the operation of a bong?

I think the term describing the initial process of separation of the solid phase (dust particles) from the gas phase via bubbling is a wet scrubbing process. On an industrial scale, it's more ...
andselisk's user avatar
  • 37.7k
17 votes

Does the term 'Cation' always refer to a positively charged particle?

From what I was taught in Middle-school, cations are those ions that move towards the cathode, likewise anions are those ions which move towards the anode. Nope, the definitions are as follows (from ...
Wildcat's user avatar
  • 19.1k
17 votes

A drop of water in a tin of sugar: Which one's the solvent, the sugar or the water?

Both answers are right. In the IUPAC Gold Book it states A liquid or solid phase containing more than one substance, when for convenience one (or more) substance, which is called the solvent, is ...
Clangorous Chimera's user avatar
17 votes
Accepted

What is the unit of Z effective?

This is an example of terminology which should be taken with a grain of salt. The term "effective nuclear charge" is often casually symbolized with $Z_\mathrm{eff}.$ This is a universally ...
andselisk's user avatar
  • 37.7k
17 votes
Accepted

Help understanding how "steric effects" are distinct from "electronic effects"?

The normal distinction between "steric" and "electronic" is based on whether the effect is transmitted through space or through bonds All the normal physical interactions we ...
matt_black's user avatar
  • 36.1k
17 votes
Accepted

Why does almost every drug that causes dependence have this "-ine" suffix?

The suffix "-ine" is not necessarily a bad thing causing dependence, proline is just an amino acid and chlorine is a gas. So there must be another reason! As per the Elsevier's Dictionary of ...
AChem's user avatar
  • 40.2k
16 votes

What is the analogue of "molecule" for ionic compounds?

The term you are looking for is formula unit, I think. Wikipedia doesn't really describe it super well, but just to give an example, you could write the sentence $\pu{58.44 g}$ of $\ce{NaCl}$ ...
orthocresol's user avatar
  • 71.1k

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