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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.

Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Our vital fluids are more than just bodily emissions—they can also be considered the purest expressions of our humanity, at least metaphorically speaking. In a three-part podcast and video series, the Distillations team checks out some of their lesser-known properties.

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Chemistry, Science, and the Olympics

A provocative series of articles in Nature raises the tricky subject of how far we should allow science to go in conferring advantage to an athlete in competition.

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Posted In: Policy | Technology

Rad Tats

Imagine the challenge of developing a chemical monitor to implant beneath the skin. The technology would provide non-invasive, constant monitoring of glucose in diabetic patients instead of current sporadic measurements requiring blood withdrawal. But its development is a rubix cube—all aspects of the puzzle must be considered with every turn; focus on one face and the other five will be a mess.

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Posted In: Technology

Beckman at 25: Jeremiah James

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 you to meet Jeremiah James.

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Posted In: Fellows

Coffee Drinkers Rejoice

The health risks of coffee have always been an issue, from the minor addictive qualities to the many contradictory studies on the excess risk for nasty maladies like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. A new and massive research study may not completely lay the question to rest but it will be a source of solace for all those who can’t get going in the morning without their cup of java.

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Posted In: Technology

The Age of Plastic

In June I attended the “The Age of Plastic,” a Smithsonian symposium which drew historians, conservators, artists, and industrial scientists all eager to discuss the implications of humanity’s growing reliance on synthetic materials.

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Guilt By Association

When clever chemists come up with a new medicine there are two essential hurdles to clear. First, does it work, and second, is it safe?

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Posted In: Technology

First Person: Madeleine Joullié

Sometimes we take safety for granted. Today’s chemistry sets are filled with innocuous chemicals designed to prevent explosions; undergraduate science laboratories utilize cookbook style teaching that doesn’t encourage experimentation; and the stereotype of the scientist always includes protective glasses. Safety is taught as one of the foundations of modern chemistry and other sciences. It’s easy to forget that it wasn’t always so.

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Relaxin'

This week marks my annual trek to Lake Sebago in southern Maine.

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Posted In: Technology

Collective Voice: The 12,000 Pounds That Changed History

Today Periodic Tabloid welcomes guest blogger Ashley Levine. Levine participated in the authentication of a shield Willard Libby used in research on carbon dating, which won him a 1960 Nobel Prize. The instrument was donated to CHF by the Department of Homeland Security in February 2012.

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Posted In: History | Technology