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Colorful Chemical Composition

This chromatogram paints a colorful chemical landscape of the oil that leaked from the Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico last year. Each peak represents one of thousands of individual compounds in the oil. The taller the peak, the more of that compound is in the oil. The tallest peaks here are diasteranes: bulky, nonpolar compounds that resist breaking down in the environment. (Image courtesy of Robert K. Nelson, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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