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ACS Mole Checks Out DC Cherry Blossom Parade

Like any good chemist, the mole always wears eye protection. Credit: Christine Schmidt

Credit: Christine Schmidt

The ACS mole mascot put in an appearance at last weekend’s National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade in Washington, D.C.

Doug Dollemore, a senior science writer in the ACS Office of Public Affairs, manned the mole suit. Would-be moles need to be 5’7″ to 5’11″ to fit in the suit, which has a fan in its head to keep the “mole”nteer cool.

The mole was part of the USA Science & Engineering Festival delegation, which also included the Math Tree, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, a robotics club from Rockville, and a large mechanical spider from Vancouver, B.C.

IYC Closing Ceremonies in Brussels

As IYC 2011 nears its end, the Belgian National Committee for Chemistry will host closing ceremonies in Brussels on Thursday, Dec. 1.

The ceremonies will include addresses by EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation & Science Máire Geoghegan-Quin and by IUPAC President Nicole Moreau; a presentation by Andrew Liveris, President, Chairman and CEO of Dow Chemical on “The world in 2050: our expectations from the life sciences, chemistry, industry and governments to build a better world by 2050″; responses from 2009 Chemistry Nobel Laureate Ada Yonath and 1997 Francqui Prize recipient Jean-Luc Bredas; a roundtable panel discussion; and concluding remarks by Kurt Bock, CEO of BASF.

You can register to attend at the ceremonies’ website.

Kids Grasp Water’s Importance

Posted on behalf of Charles Michael Drain, chemistry professor at Hunter College of the City University of New York

As part of the celebration of the International Year of Chemistry, graduate student Jacopo Samson from Hunter College of the City University of New York and I participated in the “pH of the Planet” experiment with over 250 seventh grade students from Readington Middle School in Hunterdon County, N. J.

During the last week of April, the students brought in water samples from wells, lakes, rivers, and streams. After viewing a National Geographic video about water on YouTube and discussing the properties of water, students worked in pairs to observe the turbidity and use indicators to determine the pH of 3-4 samples. Seventh grade science teachers Gerry Slattery and Chip Shepherd helped plan the experiment and worked with students when they had questions. A couple of students then tabulated the data and determined the average for each water source. Both the students and I were impressed that their averages matched well with what we determined using a calibrated pH electrode. The tabulated data is being uploaded to a database along with pH values of local water sources determined by students from every part of the planet.

“I didn’t realize how many people don’t have access to clean water and how important pH is,” seventh grader Zach said.

Drain helps prepare the experiment in his son Neel's classroom

Kids Grasp Water’s Importance

Posted on behalf of Charles Michael Drain, chemistry professor at Hunter College of the City University of New York

As part of the celebration of the International Year of Chemistry, graduate student Jacopo Samson from Hunter College of the City University of New York and I participated in the “pH of the Planet” experiment with over 250 seventh grade students from Readington Middle School in Hunterdon County, N. J.

During the last week of April, the students brought in water samples from wells, lakes, rivers, and streams.  After viewing a National Geographic video about water on YouTube and discussing the properties of water, students worked in pairs to observe the turbidity and use indicators to determine the pH of 3-4 samples. Seventh grade science teachers Gerry Slattery and Chip Shepherd helped plan the experiment and worked with students when they had questions. A couple of students then tabulated the data and determined the average for each water source. Both the students and I were impressed that their averages matched well with what we determined using a calibrated pH electrode.  The tabulated data is being uploaded to a database along with pH values of local water sources determined by students from every part of the planet.

“I didn’t realize how many people don’t have access to clean water and how important pH is,” seventh grader Zach said.

Drain helps prepare the experiment in his son Neel's classroom

Share Your Hot Flash Anecdotes

When a hot flash flares, what’s a woman to do?3179063843_cce21cd2b2_m

She can cool herself with a fan or open a freezer door and stick her head in. She can peel off as much clothing as she can decently get away with. She can chance hormonal therapy, though her friends might give her a hard time about it. Or she can test out a folk remedy from the Internet.

With all the options out there, what’s the most creative solution you’ve come up with? What happens to you when a hot flash strikes? And what’s your most embarrassing hot flash tale?

We hope you’ll share your story with us.

In the meantime, check out my article about research into the causes of and treatments for this dreaded symptom of menopause.

Digital Textbooks: Bane Or Boon?

McMurry_FinalCoverDigital versions of textbooks that can be read on a PC or a dedicated reading device like Amazon’s Kindle are slowly gaining ground in university classrooms. But they’re not yet used much in chemistry courses.

What’s your opinion of these digital textbooks?

As a student or professor, have you used one in your college courses?  In what ways did it help or hinder your educational activities?

And if you haven’t yet tried a digital textbook, what’s holding you back?

MIT Goes Whole Hog For Open Access

Massachusetts Institute of Technology faculty members have unanimously voted to post their scholarly manuscripts in a free repository on the Web.

The peer-reviewed manuscripts will be posted in the university’s DSpace repository on the date of journal publication. Authors can opt out of the agreement on a paper-by-paper basis.

Harvard University’s arts and sciences faculty members established a similar policy back in February 2008.  But MIT notes in an announcement that the new policy is the first faculty-driven, university-wide initiative of its kind in the U.S.

Is your own university considering a similar move?

How necessary is this type of policy? In other words, how often do you have trouble accessing a paper you want to read?

You Say Flattery, I Say Plagiarism

Plagiarism is unacceptable and should be dealt with firmly when it’s discovered, right? Not so fast: Some authors and even a few journal editors disagree, according to a study just reported in Science.

Harold R. Garner at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and his colleagues used computational tools and no-doubt arduous hours of reading to find journal article citations in the National Library of Medicine’s Medline database that appeared to have been plagiarized. Garner’s group then sent questionnaires to several of the authors and editors of those articles to get their take on the allegations.

The surveys were anonymous, so the responses were fairly candid. Some were astonishing. One editor of a journal in which the original article was published didn’t seem at all perturbed by the revelation that it was later plagiarized. “It’s my understanding,” that editor wrote, “that copying someone else’s description virtually word-for-word, as these authors have done, is considered a compliment to the person whose words were copied.”

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