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CHF staff and scholars provide a behind-the-scenes guide to activities at CHF, with reflections on science education, provocative explorations of chemistry in the wider world, and much more.

This page holds archived blog posts. Visit our Tumblr page to see recent content and to join the conversation.

Beckman at 25: Seymour Mauskopf

2012 is the 25th anniversary of CHF’s Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry. To celebrate the Beckman Center’s remarkable achievements and its many accomplished fellows, we will be profiling one former fellow each month over the course of the year. This month we’d like to introduce you to Seymour Mauskopf.

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Posted In: Fellows

Candlepower

An amphiphobic material—one that rejects both water and oil—would be the holy grail of coatings, because of its potential to produce self cleaning surfaces, unsullied by any foreign intrusion. A new publication brings this particular fantasy a bit closer to reality, with an unlikely hero: a candle.

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Posted In: Technology

Can We Talk About Creationism?

I recently received a letter criticizing Chemical Heritage for running an article on a creationist. A fair criticism, right? After all, we run a science and history magazine, not a religion magazine. Except that the creationist in question is a chemist. As the editor of the magazine I approved the inclusion. I had three reasons.

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Posted In: History | Policy

Darkness

“A mathematician is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat which isn't there.” This remark contains the truism that looking for a black object in the dark is challenging, even if the object is there. And what is the blackest known material? A recent report from the University of Michigan reveals that single-walled carbon nanotube forests fit the bill as the blackest of them all.

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Posted In: Technology

First Person: Orlando Battista

Orlando Battista was a prolific polymer chemist; there are over 65 patents to his name. But his scientific career wouldn't have happened without his non-scientific talents.

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Posted In: History

The Secret of a Stradivarius: Physics or Chemistry?

Music aficionados swear that instruments by Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri are the very definition of superlative. Could it be physics: the shape and structure of the instrument producing perfect intonation? Or could it be chemistry: the varnish and other finishes adding the final definitive touch to timbre excellence? A new study suggests it may be neither.

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Posted In: History | Technology

Collective Voice: Sing a Chemical Self

The ubiquitous elements that are both in our bodies and our environment are the focus of Dove Bradshaw’s 2004 print Song of Which (Evelina kneeling, looking left). Bradshaw, an internationally acclaimed artist based in New York, recently offered to donate this work to CHF's collections. We are thrilled to have a work that poetically suggests that we are physical and chemical selves, made up of the same carbon and nitrogen that is in the soil and the stars.

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Posted In: Education

Resolutions

Most people’s resolutions are old favorites like losing weight, exercising more, not obsessing about things you can’t change, or volunteering for a favorite charity. We no longer have the happiness of 2011’s International Year of Chemistry, but since I'm still intent on taking a chemistry centric view, I offer the following resolutions for 2012.

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Posted In: Education

The Year in Chemistry

The International Year of Chemistry technically ended with 2011, but it’s clear from IYC’s  event page that the celebrations – and discussions – aren’t over.

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Posted In: Education | Policy

Happy New Year

As the International Year of Chemistry draws to a close it seems fitting to offer seasonal greetings to all those in the chemical and wider scientific communities who believe in the power of chemistry to make life better. Thus, I offer the traditional salutation in several languages of CHF friends and supporters.

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Posted In: Education