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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

Chemistry’s Contributors

March is Women’s History Month in the U.S. and International Women’s Month in the U.K., so it seems the perfect time to call attention to women in science. And since March is also the kickoff to the season of awards that CHF stewards, we are proud to note that three of this year’s luminaries are women.

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Posted In: Technology

Hit the Gym

Much research exists showing the health benefits of regular physical activity, including reducing the risk of disorders everyone would dearly like to avoid like diabetes, cancer, and depression. Complicating such analyses is the fact that people who exercise are largely self-selected so it’s hard to prove causality rather than just association with untoward outcomes.

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Posted In: Technology

First Person: Alfred O.C. Nier

In his 1989 oral history interview University of Minnesota physics professor Alfred O. C. Nier claimed, “I suspect I’ve worked longer and more continuously in mass spectrometry than anybody ever has.” Nier’s career spanned decades, and with his specialization in an extremely technical field, he made an impact on some of the most important and exciting scientific achievements of the 20th century.

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Posted In: History | Technology

Material Girl

Madonna’s iconic 1985 song “Material Girl” was an evocation of the physical world’s importance compared to the more often heralded—in music at least—emotional domain. The song and its associated music video were provocative and controversial, but also helped elevate the artist to the superstar level. Wary of comparative hyperbole, CHF and Discover Magazine nonetheless followed suit with a recent evening event called "Advanced Materials: Stories of Innovation."

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Posted In: Technology

LCD Pioneers Honored with Draper Prize

At a ceremony last week the Charles Stark Draper Prize, one of the world’s preeminent awards for engineering achievement, was awarded to George H. Heilmeier, Wolfgang Helfrich, Martin Schadt, and T. Peter Brody. Sometimes referred to as “the Nobel Prize of engineering,” the Draper Prize is a $500,000 annual award that recognizes engineers whose accomplishments “have led to important benefits and significant improvement in the well-being and freedom of humanity.”

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Posted In: Fellows | Technology

Electric Bugs

Generating enough power for all the demands of modern society presents enough challenges to keep creative scientists thoroughly engaged and busy. For example, wouldn’t it be nice to have a tiny fuel cell that could be implanted in the body and that converted the chemical energy of sugar and oxygen into useful electricity to power micro-devices? New research from Case Western Reserve University creates just such a device—implanted not under your skin, but in the lowly and universally unloved cockroach.

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Posted In: Technology

First Person: Calvin Fuller

While CHF's oral history interviewees are often distinguished scientists with lengthy careers, it's rare that one can say he or she made it to Hollywood. But Calvin Fuller of Bell Labs did—due in part to his role in World War II synthetic rubber research.

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Posted In: History | Technology

Solar Army

Only those with their heads in the sand are unaware of the energy challenges we face. And besides the obvious danger of asphyxiation, having one’s head in the sand has two additional detractions: it’s a waste of silicon, which could be more usefully employed in solar panels, and it reduces the body surface area available to absorb the warmth of the sun.

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Posted In: Technology

Drugs and Poisons

What if the side effects of a useful medicine could be predicted in advance just by knowing its chemical structure? This isn’t strictly possible with current techniques, but a significant advance in foreseeing adverse drug reactions is reported by a Harvard group using sophisticated statistical modeling.

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Posted In: Technology

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