Beyond Oil and Water

Organic chemistry is filled with mysteries. The measurements involved in this week's experiment (solubility of alcohols in water) are straightforward, but scientific understanding has not really kept pace. Why do some liquids mix and others separate into distinct phases (that are usually mixtures) is still a mystery with cutting-edge applications.

A perspective article in the 31 Aug 2012 issue of Science magazine (DOI: 10.1126/science.1223728) wonders whether "the organization of cellular compartments may be driven by liquid phase separations". Cell biology meets organic chemistry.

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