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Blog Archive

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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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

Beckman at 25: Bruce Lewenstein

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 to introduce you to Bruce Lewenstein.

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Posted In: Fellows

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

Collective Voice: Intermission

Imagine if you never gave your house a spring cleaning. Now imagine that, in addition to all this, your house had more than 600 individual artifacts and hundreds of people walking through it every month. That’s our reality: we haven’t shut down the Museum at CHF for a serious cleaning since opening in October 2008. But we finally found the time this year, and closed the museum for eight days at the beginning of February.

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Posted In: Education

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

Who’s Afraid of History of Science?

Three historians of science got together last week in Philadelphia to talk about what matters in the history of science and what’s useful about it. I went into the talk convinced of the importance of the history of science. After all, I wouldn’t be a historian of science if I didn’t think it important. But I did have one concern.

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Posted In: Education | History

Biochemistry of Learning

A new study peers into the brains of mollusks for clues on how timing and spacing impacts humans' learning abilities.

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