About Thanks to Chemistry

What knowledge lurks within a battery forgotten at the back of a drawer, in a packet of artificial sweetener poured into coffee, or in a copper-coated penny? Common objects have stories to tell us—about how they came to be, and how they influenced lives, and even the very shape and texture of our societies. Thanks to Chemistry uncovers the chemistry and the history hidden inside the stuff of our lives.

Thanks to Chemistry has its origins in the International Year of Chemistry (IYC 2011). In addition IYC 2011’s focus on categories of energy, communications, food and water, and health provides a way to organize this project and build a web of connections with long-lasting significance. For example, while baking powder rightly belongs in the food category, historical events connect it to health and dirty politics; a miniature battery belongs in energy, but history connects it to communications and World War II battlefields.

Join us as we brush the cobwebs off familiar objects and rediscover the chemistry and hidden connections—scientific, historical, political, and social—that went into creating and using them.  This ongoing project comprises web, print, and audio components:

Thanks to Chemistry: Hidden in Plain Sight

History shapes our lives today. In this Chemical Heritage magazine series, everyday objects remind us of how they came to be and the ways they influence us.   

Thanks to Chemistry: Our Chemical Landscape

This four-part audio series, posted to CHF’s award-winning podcast, Distillations, examines an aspect of past and present science in the city, in the suburbs, on the farm, and in the wilderness.

Thanks to Chemistry: EarthSky

CHF, in partnership with EarthSky, is producing interviews with working scientists for radio and in podcast form. Listen to scientists discuss how to feed the world’s growing population, how targeted drug-delivery systems will change medicine, and why the way stuff is made is so important. 

BASF has provided lead corporate sponsorship for Thanks to Chemistry. CHF also wishes to acknowledge charitable support provided for this IYC 2011 initiative by The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, DuPont, and ExxonMobil.