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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.

All posts in History

Civil War Medicine at CHF Science Fair

It’s First Friday at CHF, and we’re ready to celebrate with “Stars, Stripes, and Science,” our annual science fair. We know, of course, that the July 4th holiday commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence. But this year we are commemorating another important anniversary in American history: the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

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Posted In: Education | History

CHF Abroad

Bonjour from beautiful Paris! A group of four CHF staff are in Paris this week for the Commission on the History of Modern Chemistry's symposium, "Renewing the Heritage of Chemistry in the 21st Century."

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Posted In: Education | History

Fathers and Sons (and Daughters!)

Science is often a family business; there have been six Nobel Prize-winning fathers and sons in the award’s history – all in science disciplines. No one in my family has this kind of hardware decorating the mantel in the living room, I must admit. But I still look up to my pharmacist and former chemistry teacher dad.

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Posted In: History

First Person: Tadeus Reichstein

At 88 years old, Dr. Tadeus Reichstein participated in a CHF oral history interview at his office in Basel, Switzerland. When asked for his secret to longevity, Reichstein replied, “There's no secret, but I think that as long as you are interested in life, and you can work, this is probably the best you can do for yourself.” Reichstein was living evidence of that credo.

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Posted In: History

Women Share Struggles, Successes in Science

Four top female scientists gathered in New York City as part of the World Science Festival recently to discuss their lives in the field. Similarly, CHF has been conducting oral histories of women in chemistry to better understand the changes that have occurred in the scientific workplace. There is, unsurprisingly, a lot of overlap.

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Posted In: History | Policy

Tri, Tri Again

Where is the reusable cup that serves both hot and cold coffee needs, and is made of a material safe for my health? The Tervis Tumbler FAQ page assures me the product contains no Bisphenol A – it’s made using the polymer Tritan, from Eastman Chemical Company. But can I trust this magic cup?

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Posted In: History

You Can Call Me 114

The official recognition of two new elements – 114 and 116 – on June 1 was kind of a big deal. 116 lasts only milliseconds before it decays into 114, and 114 lasts less than a second before it decays into 112. Because these elements are so unstable, little is known about their properties. Right now, most people are just talking about their names.  

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Posted In: History | Technology

Newton Would U+2661 Unicode 6.0

Unicode 6.0 includes a new code block: alchemical symbols. These were submitted and moved through a long approval process by our colleagues at the Chymistry of Isaac Newton project. CHF helped out by providing numerous examples of tables of (al)chemical symbols from the 17th-, and 18th-century books in our collections.

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Posted In: History

Rosalyn S. Yalow, 1921 - 2011

In 1977 Rosalyn Yalow was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine – only the second woman to do so in that category. While Yalow undeniably deserved the award and the recognition that accompanied it, women in the mid-1970s were only beginning to make serious in-roads into scientific fields.

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Posted In: History

Harder Sell: Chemistry or Death?

Getting a general audience excited to visit a chemistry museum can be a bit daunting. Therefore, it was with much sympathy that I recently visited a museum about death.

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Posted In: History