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Periodic Tabloid

Here We Go Again

With depressing regularity we are treated to reports of the scientific illiteracy of our fellow citizens. One such salvo comes from the National Center for Education Statistics.

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Gasoline from Biomass without Fermentation

Most processes currently envisioned to produce alcohols from biomass depend on fermentation. That is, a living organism, often optimized through genetic engineering, converts the sugars or starches to alcohols. Besides being slow, the process usually takes place in a dilute system leading to an expensive water removal step.  

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How Is Networking Useful, or Why Did I Leave the Lab for This?

On April 14, 2010, CHF hosted a networking event for local women chemists. What made this event unique is that the networking was focused on undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctorate women chemists from all over the Philadelphia area. Invitations were sent to all local chemistry departments, and participants represented six local colleges and universities. Intending to attract an audience that may not yet value the power of networking, the title of the panel discussion was How Is Networking Useful, or Why Did I Leave the Lab for This?

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Patent Medicine

Two genes that are linked to breast and ovarian cancer (BRCA1, BRCA2) were patented several years ago by a firm called Myriad Genetics. This meant that the company had exclusive rights to use the genes to diagnose disease and to invent new therapies. They did accomplish the former but, sadly, not the latter.

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Industrial Biotech is Accelerating

Several different news releases make it evident that industrial applications of genetic biotechnology, which seemed to be the domain of futurists, are now becoming a reality. One example of this new reality will be in the area of energy sciences and biofuels. 

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Seminal Mysteries

It probably never occurred to you to wonder what controls ejaculation in insects. A multinational group of investigators did, however, and their results lead to a chemical mystery.

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Molecular Assist to Cancer Surgeons

If you’ve contracted one of the common, nasty cancers of the large organs (lung, colon, breast, etc.), and it hasn’t spread yet, the best course is to cut it out. Surgeons do this pretty well if the tumor is clearly defined and easily discerned from normal tissue.

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Sniffing Your Friends

We are all familiar with the unique smells associated with particular places or people.

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Hard Science

Is science more difficult to understand than other subjects? You might think so, given the sad quality of our national dialogue on scientific subjects.

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Thinking about Ada Lovelace

Happy Ada Lovelace Day! Oh, do you not know who Ada Lovelace is…? Unfortunately you are not alone. Ada Lovelace (1815–1852) was the daughter of Lord Byron and author of the first computer programs. While it is sad to forget the heroines of 19th- and earlier-20th-century science, neither should we forget the heroines of science today. I spent Monday at the American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco. My day began early with the Women in Industry breakfast. I met amazing women—and not just women in industry but women from all over the chemical world. I also met students who were networking and searching for their first jobs. Many of those young women—undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctorates—have lofty scientific dreams, and they should not fear they will be pushed to the margins as women. While I want to say that they will not be because this is the 21st century, one can never be certain.

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