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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.

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All posts in Technology

The Amazing Adventures of Spider Silk

Spidey’s secret identity is being revealed, and it has nothing to do with Peter Parker. Chemists and biochemists are manipulating spider silk in ways that a few years ago would have been possible only in a comic book.

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Posted In: Technology

Book Learnin'

In a heritage institution, the marriage between technology and interpretation more often feels arranged than passionate. Communicating historic objects authentically in a new medium requires new thought patterns. Enter The Alchemical Quest interactive project, which attempts to thwart this tradition. Here's what we're learning.

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Posted In: Technology

Genes and Identity

When the human genome was sequenced a decade ago it stirred hope that knowing the chemical identity of our own personal DNA would yield precise clues about what to expect in our lives. Alas, DNA predictions are not that easy, at least according to a recent scrutiny from Johns Hopkins and Harvard researchers.

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Posted In: Technology

Oil Spill Cleanup

Most have heard the phrase “fight fire with fire,” which is generally taken to mean using the same tactics as your attacker. Although perhaps a stretch, attacking oil spills with carbon may be an equivalent concept, or at least one can so infer from a recent paper.

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Posted In: Technology

The Materiality of Music

The emergence of the semiconductor industry has opened up new frontiers in electronic music. The effects of this transition recently became apparent to me while designing The College of New Jersey’s From Etherphone to Microchip, an exhibit that spans the history of electronics from radio to high-definition television, including several milestones from the history of electronic music.

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Posted In: Fellows | History | Technology

Intoxicated Creativity

Alcohol limits high cognitive function, as anyone who’s tried to complete a challenging mental task under the influence will attest. But can alcohol also provide the spark of creative genius, as some chronicles of popular culture maintain? A new publication from the University of Illinois at Chicago lends the idea some credibility.

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Posted In: Technology

A Rare Problem

Rare earth elements are much in the news these days. Chemical and Engineering News, Forbes, and CHF’s own First Friday each offer their take on the subject, albeit with very different audiences in mind. Why the fuss? Modern life depends on the availability of the rare earths.

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Posted In: Policy | Technology

Collective Voice: 50th Anniversary of LCD Research

In September 1962 The Jetsons premiered on ABC, bringing flying cars, robotic housemaids, and flat-panel displays to primetime. The last we now take for granted, but in 1962 the idea of a television thin enough to mount on the wall was as farfetched as a pair of antigravity boots. Few Americans knew that a chemist working for the Radio Corporation of America had—50 years ago today—already taken the first step toward transforming that science-fiction dream into a reality.

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Posted In: History | Technology

Not Good News on Cancer

Cancer drugs like Gleevec, Erbitux, and Herceptin target essential growth pathways gone haywire in cancer. These can be very effective in patients whose cancer contains the altered target, but this is not all patients and even for the “lucky” ones, the specter of acquired drug resistance is ever present. And now comes worse news.

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Posted In: Technology

Fat Tuesday: Why Chocolate Tastes So Good

For those of you who will be enjoying Easter candy this weekend (or just the discounted crème eggs next week), guest blogger and former chemistry prof Rebecca Guenard of Atomic-o-licious explains the inescapable power of chocolate.

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Posted In: Technology