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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 Technology

The Geography of the Semiconductor: Lessons from Herman Fialkov

The story of Herman Fialkov, who died earlier this year, provides an exemplary lesson on semiconductor electronics and venture capital on both the East and West coasts.

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Posted In: History | Technology

Collective Voice: More Martian Science!

Did you know the analytical instruments contained within Curiosity have a direct link to the historical instruments in the collection here at CHF?

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Posted In: History | Technology

Nuclear Powered Martian Science!

Curiosity is equipped with an impressive array of geochemical instrumentation. The rover's SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) instrument suite contains a gas chromatograph and a mass spectrometer, enabling it to identify a wide range of organic compounds in the planet's soil and atmosphere. 

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Posted In: Fellows | Technology

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

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

Relaxin'

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

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Posted In: Technology