“Chemistry begins in the stars. The stars are the source of the chemical elements,
which are the building blocks of matter and the core of our subject.”

Peter Atkins

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Theoretical problems


T1 – Flammable vs Inflammable

In the myth of Medea and Argonauts, the king led Jason to a huge field of fire-shooting oxen and told that he had to plough the land around the crowds of oxen, as part of his first task. But Medea had concocted a fire-proof ointment and so he plowed the flickering fields unscathed.
According to the one of the versions of the same myth, when Jason decides to marry the daughter of Glaucus Creon, indignant Medea sent them clothes as a wedding gift. When Jason’s new wife puts on the clothes, it self-ignites which causes her death.

Suggest a method to make self-ignitable clothes which is activated when the clothes are put on. On the contrary, propose a fire-resistant material for the clothes. Present its parameters, explain how it works.





T2 – Myth or Fact?

In the same myth, for the second task, Jason was given a box of serpent’s teeth to plant into the scorched earth. As soon as he scattered them, each seed sprouted into a bloodthirsty warrior.
It appears that well-preserved teeth were particularly appreciated at that time. It is doubtful that such warriors would have arisen from carious teeth…

Some toothpastes contain sodium fluoride as one of the additives that prevents tooth decay. At the same time, there is also a claim that this is just an advertising trick which was invented only to make use of sodium fluoride, which is a byproduct of aluminum production. Do you agree or disagree with this opinion? Explain your reasoning.



T3 – Poison or Cure?

A 22-year-old male with no previous history of trauma presents with a cough, abdominal pain, rash, nausea, fever, and low blood pressure. Dr. House and his team cannot pinpoint the patient’s problem since there is no illness with so many symptoms. The patient got all of the symptoms after taking his cough medication. After he complains of painful tingling in his fingers, House suddenly zeroes in on the cause. Turned out that the pill he was taking for his cough was not really a cough medication due to a pharmacy error. Instead, it was colchicine…

The name “Colchicine” comes from its use as a poison in the district of Colchis, the homeland of the “Golden Fleece.” In Greek mythology, it was referred to as “the destructive fire of the Colchicon Medea.” What are the uses of colchicine today? Propose the mechanism of action. How does it work as a poison?



T4 – Colorful Bird

The common pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) is a colorful bird renowned for the striking plumage of the male. The species name colchicus is Latin for “of Colchis”.

Investigate how the color of the plumage is formed. Explain why it has a broad spectrum of colors. Propose a system which you think best describes the color of an object.




Practical problems


P1 – Power a Cell Phone


Using readily available materials, construct a galvanic cell which will act as a constant current source that will allow us to charge a mobile phone. Explain how it works.



P2 – Alternative Photography


Some iron salts are photosensitive. Prepare a photo using these salts. Explain how the photo was made.





All pictures are illustrations and belong to the copyright owner.

T1 - https://www.intouch-quality.com

T2 - https://bluemcare.com

T3 - https://www.news-medical.net

T4 - https://en.wikipedia.org

P1 - Harris Daniel C. 2007. Quantitative Chemical Analysis. 7th ed. New York NY: W.H. Freeman.

P2 - https://www.alternativephotography.com