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Colourful Chemistry: Chemistry of UNIVERSAL INDICATOR

James Kennedy

Chemistry of UNIVERSAL INDICATOR jameskennedymonash

By definition, an indicator is a substance that changes colour in different pH environments. Universal indicator is a brown-coloured solution—containing a mixture of indicators—that can be added to any substance to determine its pH. Like all indicators, universal indicator changes colour in different pH environments. At low pH, it appears red, and at high pH, it appears blue or violet. At neutral pH, it appears green. Universal indicator can form a continuous spectrum of colours that give an approximate reading of the concentration of protons in a sample.

Water and propan-1-ol are used as solvents. They are both polar and dissolve all the other ingredients in the solution. Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is an alkaline solution that adjusts the pH of the universal indicator to ensure that each colour is shown at the correct pH value. It is necessary to add NaOH to the universal indicator because some of the indicator compounds (e.g. methyl red) are acidic themselves, which would affect the…

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Who am I?


“Who am I?” This is an interesting and complicated question, and the answer (s) is (are) not simple. Let’s start trying to explain why I’m opening this blog. “Not only chemistry” is the English version of my “old” blog “Nonsolochimica”, that is written in Italian.

This new blog is a way to keep me up to date and to improve my written English. So, if you are reading one post of mine, and you notice mistakes, please let me know that!

I went to the high school for classical studies “Machiavelli” in Florence, and when I graduated I started work as a waitress, barman, telephone operator, sales clerk, nanny, tutor, etc., to pay the University’s fees, just as a lot of other colleagues.

I have two degrees: the first is in “Technologies for Restoration and Conservation of Artifacts and Heritage Patrimony”, the second is in “Science and Technologies for cultural heritage”. My thesis were both about studying and characterising samples of archaeological wet wood, from a site near Ercolano (Naples), for that reason I worked at the Organic Chemistry Department of University of Florence. My passion for chemistry has born during high school and emerged again at that time.

In 2005 my supervisor, Dr Salvini, had the brilliant idea to arrange a wide series of labs for schools, and from that year, time after time, the project involved a huge number of partecipants. It was called “Openlab” and it was really fulfilling to me. I’ve even done a traineeship in this organizations, realising interactive laboratories, scientific meetings, workshops and conferences. I enjoyed that experience very much.

Unfortunately 200 euro p/m on short term contracts wasn’t enough to live, and I had to do supplementary jobs to earn money.

I would like to work in the field of  preventive conservation or heritage science, but at the moment I’m working as a research technician at the University of Reading, being responsible for the GC lab and the EA-IRMS lab for the School of Archaeology Geography and Environmental Science, and I find my job very rewarding!

The main subject of this blog would be archaeometry and other issues related to it, but I will also speak about things that make my life tasty, such as music, literature, animals, and science communication. One of my goal in life is to share my passions and thoughts trying to involve more people as possible in matters that I care about. And, when it is suitable, I even would like to let you laugh!