Nitro Compounds (Post Two)

Explosives have played a very important role in history for a long time, and it was all possible due to why explosives are, well, explosive in the first place, the nitro group. A nitro group is a combination of atoms, one nitrogen atom, and two oxygen atoms (NO2). This nitro group, when placed in different positions, completely changes how the molecule behaves. With a certain arrangement of the atoms, there is p-nitrotoluene, an explosive, while with only a slight variation on the location of the hydrogen and oxygen atoms, it creates p-aminobenzoic acid, commonly known as sunscreen.

Nitro compounds have existed for thousands of years, with origins in the modern countries of China, Arabia, and India. The ingredients however, were not found until 1000 A.D, and the actual proportions of the ingredients weren’t discovered until much later. Famous explosives, such as dynamite, gunpowder, and even TNT come from nitro compounds. Alfred Nobel, realizing the popular demand for explosives in the mining and excavating industry, and realizing how unsafe nitroglycerin really was after a string of explosive accidents, which resulted in the death of his brother, Nobel decided to look for a safe alternative to nitroglycerin and stumbled across what we now know as dynamite, a mix between nitroglycerin and kieselguhr. His invention even led to an award from the Bank of Sweden, which we now know today as the Nobel Peace Prize. These explosives have played a major role in almost every war since World War One.

Explosives still play a major part in today’s society. Analogous to most other molecules, nitro compounds do not receive the credit they deserve, for they are just small parts of the whole that society sees. However, there is no hiding the fact that explosives are still very common, and have very practical uses in the modern world. They are used in quite a variety of societal necessities ranging from agriculture, art, construction, excavation, firefighting, and mining to things that I personally would never think of such as fracturing kidney/gall stones, aerospace engineering, and forestry.

I believe that Penny Le Couteur and Jay Burreson did a very good job with this chapter. They gave solid chemical and historical information that was very relevant to what I expected to read. They clearly explained its importance; but once again, I have a problem with the hypothetical situations it provides, as they are purely just, indeed, hypothetical. Despite this, I believe they did in fact due a good job, and deserve praise for their dedication to both the historical and chemical aspects placed in the book.

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Categories: Uncategorized | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Nitro Compounds (Post Two)

  1. fluffymonstah

    As expected of Heston先生(google translate is your friend). Your summary and insight on the authors’ opinions are interesting as always. Come on man, I’m running out of marriage registration forms here.

  2. mrakashpatel

    That was a very well-written and informative post. I for one actually enjoy the fact that they include hypothetical situations; it gets me thinking of what could have been versus what actually happen, but hey, it’s your opinion. I may just have to consider you for executive vice presidente of swag, but I’ll have to consult my partner-in-swag before it can be made official.

  3. sboehms2015

    Well, Heston, I hate to burst your bubble but para-aminobenzoic acid is not sunscreen, per se. It is, simply, the molecule that actually does the work of absorbing the suns harmful UV rays. If sunscreen were all acid, there would be a lot more people with skin problems because that compound has been found to cause skin problems. Just a thought for anyone thinking his post was flawless. On the other hand, all other info was spot on, so semi-good job!

  4. ianslamen

    good post, i love how you include what you think of the authors work in the blog. i also like how well you mixed the history and chemistry in your work.

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