A brief history of quinine, fluorescence and the probable origin of the G&T.

Tonic water illuminated by ultraviolet light. (Cathy Scola, Getty Images)

Tonic water glows faintly in sunlight — a phenomenon that is even more apparent when it is illuminated by ultraviolet light. This glow, called fluorescence, is a special characteristic of tonic water’s main ingredient: quinine.

Quinine is what chemists call a natural product — a molecule produced by a living organism, usually a plant, that often has valuable therapeutic properties.

Quinine is extracted from the bark of trees belonging to the genus Cinchona. …


Falling Walls Lab 2013

The traditional perception of a “lab” as an impersonal and controlled environment for scientific research could not be more different from the “Lab” hosted by Falling Walls. The latter is a vibrant and dynamic space for thought leaders to share, connect and develop new ideas. It is the prelude to the Falling Walls Conference which is billed as The International Conference on Future Breakthroughs in Science and Society. But how did a young chemistry student come to share the stage with some of our world’s foremost minds?

My Falling Walls experience began almost 10 000 km away from Berlin in…


Source: Gritstone Oncology

Antimicrobial resistance to existing antibiotics is a growing crisis. Not only are new antibiotics exceptionally costly to develop, but they are usually limited to a narrow spectrum of chemical diversity. In January, the Director-General of the World Health Organisation declared:

“Never has the threat of antimicrobial resistance been more immediate and the need for solutions more urgent.”

The process of bringing new medicines from the bench to the bedside, known as drug discovery, is expensive, difficult and sometimes inefficient. It has been estimated that the average drug discovery project takes over a decade and costs around $3 billion. …

John Woodland

Research scientist, musician and broadcaster ​based in Cape Town, South Africa.

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