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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.

CHF to Premiere Monthly Webcast on August 7

On August 7, CHF will debut a monthly livestreamed show called #HistChem. The show will feature topically compelling issues that intersect science and history. CHF's Bob Kenworthy and Michal Meyer will host the show. The first episode, "How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Apocalypse," will air at 6 p.m. EST.

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Choose Your Survival Kit for the Zombie Apocalypse

Zombies evolve over time, but natural selection has nothing to do with it. In the original Haitian version of zombification, someone is knocked out with drugs, reanimated, and then mind controlled by a voodoo witch doctor who has made his victim believe he was dead. In George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, people rise from their graves after being exposed to radiation and slowly shuffle around, searching for brains to consume. In more recent interpretations, such as 28 Days Later, a viral pandemic infects living people, turning them into fast–moving, flesh-eating psychopaths. Even more recently, such as in the video game The Last of Us, humans are zombified by a parasitic fungus.

These scenarios require varying levels of preparedness and different survival strategies. Could you wait until all the zombies starved to death or until microbes completely decomposed their rotting corpses? Would it be possible to find a cure or vaccine? Is it safe to travel on foot, or would you be run down by packs of fast zombies? No matter the situation, one thing is certain: social infrastructure will disintegrate and zombies will reduce humanity to a fraction of its former numbers.

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Artistic Expression: A Better Way to Fathom Climate Change?

It’s hard for people to “see” climate change in any meaningful way. Floods and droughts we can comprehend, the seasons also, but an event that stretches over decades is hard to grasp. Science gives us the data, but doesn’t help us see on a scale that we can actually experience. But perhaps art can allow us to experience climate change, even if only a little bit. CHF’s Sensing Change exhibit aims to do just that. Nine artists address environmental change through their work at the Museum at CHF.

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Transitions

Chemistry is all about transitions. Starting in November, a new CHF blog will amplify, expand, and build upon on the many types of content we already generate, from public programs, podcasts, Chemical Heritage magazine, scholarly publication, and our burgeoning web presence.

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Posted In: Education

The Geography of the Semiconductor: Lessons from Herman Fialkov

The story of Herman Fialkov, who died earlier this year, provides an exemplary lesson on semiconductor electronics and venture capital on both the East and West coasts.

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Posted In: History | Technology

First Person: Hidden Stories

First Person mainly deals with the subjects of oral histories at CHF, but I thought it might be an interesting change of pace to take you behind the scenes of the oral history process. Today I’ll be highlighting the people and processes that make those oral histories possible.

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Posted In: Education | History

What is Chemistry’s Version of the Higgs Boson?

What would be the chemistry equivalent of the Higgs boson? What would attract such widespread media froth and public exhilaration?

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Posted In: Education

Collective Voice: More Martian Science!

Did you know the analytical instruments contained within Curiosity have a direct link to the historical instruments in the collection here at CHF?

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Posted In: History | Technology

Preconception and Learning

Suppose when you were a small child you believed that the sun revolves around the earth. This wouldn’t be surprising since nothing in your experience would refute the idea. Then one day you go to school and your teacher informs you that the opposite is true—the earth revolves around the sun—and this has been fully accepted by all leading thinkers for nearly five centuries. Would the new information replace your old view, or merely suppress it?

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Posted In: Education

Nuclear Powered Martian Science!

Curiosity is equipped with an impressive array of geochemical instrumentation. The rover's SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) instrument suite contains a gas chromatograph and a mass spectrometer, enabling it to identify a wide range of organic compounds in the planet's soil and atmosphere. 

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Posted In: Fellows | Technology