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Physical Properties of Matter

Discusses characteristics used to describe matter and what they mean.

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The Science of Gum

The Science of Gum

Credit: Google Books - (1905). "Advertisements". The World's Work. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Co..
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chiclets_advertisement,_1905.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

This chewing gum ad was created in 1905. Clearly, chewing gum is not a recent invention. In fact, chewing gum—or something like it—has been around for thousands of years.

Why It Matters

  • Ancient Greeks and Native Americans chewed tree resins. This is still a component of chewing gym. Modern gum dates back to about 1870. One of thechief ingredients of gum at that time was a Mexican rubber named chicle.
  • Today, more than a billion pounds of gum are produced each year, and people spend about $5 billion a year for the sticky stuff. The average American chews almost two pounds of gum per year!
  • Besides rubber and tree resins, modern gum contains a plastic that makes gum sticky. This is good for chewing but not so good for cleaning up used gum. Used gum poses a sticky hazard on sidewalks and under desks. It is insoluble in water, so cleaning it up is difficult and expensive.
  • One approach to cleaning it up involves the use of enzymes. Enzymes are catalysts that speed up chemical reactions.
  • To learn more about the ingredients in chewing gum and how gum is made, watch this video: 


Show What You Know

Read about chewing gum, including its pros and cons, at the links below. Then answer the questions that follow.

  1. What is gum base? What ingredients does it contain? What are some other uses of these ingredients?
  2. What other ingredients are used to make gum? What roles do they play?
  3. What are possible pros of gum chewing?
  4. What are some cons of gum chewing?
  5. Describe three different approaches to solving the problem of used gum.

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    Image Attributions

    1. [1]^ Credit: Google Books - (1905). "Advertisements". The World's Work. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Co..; Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chiclets_advertisement,_1905.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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