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Chemistry Roundup

March 18, 2011

Hair dyes are getting an update from modern chemistry.

Transcript

Washing gray away. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The chemistry of hair dye hasn’t changed much in a hundred and fifty years, when a chemist discovered that a compund called p-phenylenediamine turns brown when exposed to air. Modern hair dyes use the same stuff. But according to an article in the journal Chemical Reviews, we could soon see new advances in hair coloring, including microscopic nanomaterials that penetrate hair follicles, optical materials that bend light to produce a kind of iridescence, and even genetic modification of hair follicles that could either stimulate pigment production, or halt the graying process altogether.

In other chemistry news, a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that polyphenol compounds found in apples help fruitflies live ten percent longer. They also improved the flies ability to walk and climb. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.