Analytical Challenges

We live in the ever-accelerating world accustomed to getting instant answers from Google. In contrast to this, the Analytical Challenge series invites us to pause and think about some analytical problem using the old fashioned paper and pencil method. This column is not here to teach analytical chemistry but to offer glimpses of fundamental problems worth pondering over. Over the last decade the column has featured a rich variety of chemical problems often with touch of cultural relevance. Why does garlic turn blue when left in vinegar, why did Avogadro’s constant suddenly jump in its value during the cold war, and could Cleopatra really have dissolved her pearls to win her bet against Marc Antony? In addition, this column also features ‘serious’ problems with deep-rooted links to fundamental analytical chemistry. There is a variety of examples exploring the value of modern NMR techniques, problems exploring the various quantitation methods in analytical chemistry (standard additions, isotope dilution), or aspects of seemingly simple dilution of samples. We invite the readers not to be shy and spend some time pondering these problems or propose one from your own collection of interesting problems!

Cover imageIn cooperation with Column Editor Juris Meija we would like to invite you to participate in the Analytical Challenge, which is a series of puzzles to entertain and challenge our readers.

The special 'Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry' feature ‘Analytical Challenge’ has established itself as a truly unique quiz series, with a new scientific puzzle published on a quarterly basis.

Prize for the lucky winner

Each "Analytical Challenge" provides you with the opportunity to win a prize (a Springer book of your choice up to a value of €100)... Please see below for details on how to participate!

The solution of the puzzles with the names of the lucky winners will be announced here and in one of the forthcoming issues of ABC.

Want to participate?

Check out the CURRENT Analytical Challenge and send us an email with the solution by October 1, 2020, to

Interlaboratory consensus building challenge


Please get in touch with us in case of questions or comments on this Analytical Challenge or the journal 'Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry' in general.


Gas weighing challenge

Solution to gas weighing challenge

Element crossword challenge

Titration endpoint challenge
Solution to titration endpoint challenge
Lead quantitation challenge
Solution to lead quantitation challenge
Wheat beer challenge
Solution to wheat beer challenge

Elemental pub quiz challenge
Solution to elemental pub quiz challenge


Collision induced dissociation mass spectrometry challenge
Solution to collision induced dissociation mass spectrometry challenge
Best food reference material challenge
Solution to best food reference material challenge
Vitamin B3 mystery challenge
Solution to vitamin B3 mystery challenge
Fading lemonade challenge
Solution to fading lemonade challenge


Redox titration challenge
Solution to redox titration challenge
Measurement uncertainty challenge
Solution to measurement uncertainty challenge
Pink tea challenge
Solution to pink tea challenge
Through the looking-glass challenge
Solution to through the looking-glass challenge


Precision mixology challenge
Solution to precision mixology challenge
Mohr’s method challenge
Solution to Mohr’s method challenge
Phenylbutazone purity challenge
Solution to phenylbutazone purity challenge
Hollandaise challenge
Solution to Hollandaise challenge
Isotope amount ratio measurement challenge
Solution to isotope amount ratio measurement challenge
NMR hide-and-seek challenge
Solution to NMR hide-and-seek challenge


Left-handed DNA challenge
Solution to the left-handed DNA challenge
Solubility product challenge
Solution to solubility product challenge
The highest melting point challenge
Solution to highest melting point challenge
Maillard and grilled steak challenge
Solution to Maillard and grilled steak challenge
Rubbery egg challenge
Solution to rubbery egg challenge
Doubling spectroscopy challenge
Solution to doubling spectroscopy challenge


Blue garlic challenge
Solution to blue garlic challenge
The absinthe challenge
Solution to the absinthe challenge
Ostwald’s dilution law challenge
Solution to Ostwald’s dilution law challenge
Osmium density challenge
Solution to the osmium density challenge
Isotope dilution challenge
Solution to the isotope dilution challenge
Ariadne’s thread NMR challenge
Solution to the Ariadne’s thread NMR challenge


The copper pots and jam challenge
Solution to the copper pots and jam challenge
Quality assurance challenge 11
Solution to quality assurance challenge 11
Certified Reference Material recipe challenge
Solution to Certified Reference Material recipe challenge
The pycnometer challenge
Solution to the pycnometer challenge
Papal chemistry challenge
Solution to papal chemistry challenge
Angels’ share challenge
Solution to Angels’ share challenge


Plato’s elements challenge
Solution to Plato’s elements challenge
Bavarois challenge
Solution to the Bavarois challenge
Quality assurance challenge 10
Solution to quality assurance challenge 10
Standard addition challenge
Solution to standard addition challenge
Peptide sequencing challenge
Solution to peptide sequencing challenge
The Olympic Games challenge
Solution to the Olympic Games challenge


The green beans challenge
Solution to green beans challenge
Nuclear Overhauser effect challenge
Solution to nuclear Overhauser effect challenge
Hofmeister effect challenge
Solution to Hofmeister effect challenge
Radioactive Jeopardy challenge
Solution to radioactive Jeopardy challenge
Living cell spectroscopy challenge
Solution to living cell spectroscopy challenge
Molality–molarity challenge
Solution to Molality–molarity challenge
A “little western flower” challenge
Solution to “little western flower” challenge


Beryllium valence challenge
Solution to Beryllium valence challenge
Quality assurance challenge 9
Solution to Quality assurance challenge 9
Avogadro constant challenge
Solution to Avogadro constant challenge
Whipped egg-white challenge
Solution to Whipped egg-white challenge
The uncooked egg challenge
Solution to Uncooked egg challenge
Cleopatra’s cocktail challenge
Solution to Cleopatra’s cocktail challenge