Hidden In Plain Sight, Again

You never have to go far to find signs of chemistry. Here are three signs of the chemical enterprise that turned up in very different situations.

On Friday, at one of those official society events that take place before the hordes of members show up, some lunch planner had found sugar packets with the chemical formula for sucrose, table sugar, printed on one side.



The following morning, while checking out some of the art galleries in the warehouse district, I walked into the Ariodante Gallery on Julia Street. Featured there was the artist Abe Gleason’s “Electrolyte” series. In each piece, he combines found pieces of glass, iron plumbing and other fixtures, and light. The name of the series may merely play homonymously on the chemical term, but it indicates that this chemical terminology is part of the collective conscious.

Finally, upon returning to the Hilton New Orleans Riverside, a freight train had stopped along the tracks that literally are on the border of the hotel building. I couldn’t tell what substances were in the chemical tank cars, but the chemical hazard symbols on the side of the tank indicated that some kind of flammable liquid is inside. The flames on the symbol have self-evident meaning; the 3 on the hazard symbol indicates it’s a liquid that’s flammable.


So for those who worry that chemistry’s place in our lives is too hidden, too unseen, I recommend just looking around.

Author: Ivan Amato

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1 Comment

  1. The UN number on the train car isn’t very helpful either, 1993 is for flammable liquids that don’t have their own UN number.

    I love that idea for the sugar packets.