Can You Compete With A Chemistry Olympian?
Jul24

Can You Compete With A Chemistry Olympian?

A lot of the world may be gearing up for the Summer Olympics in London. But this week in Maryland (just a relatively hop, skip, and jump away from C&EN headquarters) high school students from 72 nations are competing in the extremely challenging International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO). The students have been preparing for months for the event by studying a book of preparatory problems. See how challenging the questions are for yourself. Each day this week, we’ll post a new question from that book. Let us know how you do! If you want to see even more questions, check out the pop quiz in our July 16th cover package about IChO. Monday’s question (left) and answer (right):                           Tuesday’s question and answer:          Wednesday’s question and answer:                 Thursday’s question and answer:     Friday’s question and answer:               Good...

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A Sneak Peek Of C&EN’s Next Issue
Apr01

A Sneak Peek Of C&EN’s Next Issue

Because who doesn’t enjoy a rousing round of Where’s Beaker on an April 1st that falls on a post-national meeting Friday?

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Cocktails, Dinner, and Chemistry

Posted on behalf of senior correspondent Marc Reisch. Leading in to the U.S. kickoff of the International Year of Chemistry last night, about 175 chemical industry movers and shakers gathered at the Philadelphia headquarters of the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF). At his remarks just before dinner, Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris got it right when he noted that lauding the benefits of chemistry to an audience including leaders in science and industry was like preaching to the converted. And what an audience it was. Among the industry leaders present were Pierre Brondeau, CEO of FMC, Stephanie Burns, chairman of Dow Corning, and Craig Rogerson, chairman of Chemtura. Others at the dinner to welcome in the year of chemistry included Cal Dooley, president of the American Chemistry Council, and Nancy Jackson, president of ACS. Even the mayor of Philadelphia, Michael A. Nutter, made an appearance and professed his enthusiasm for chemistry, though he confessed that the effort to memorize the periodic table of elements in college pretty much ended his pre-med career path. Earlier in the evening, guests were able to enjoy cocktails and meander about the spacious CHF building and its many science exhibits. They could also choose from among several lectures. One, by Washington Post columnist Jason Wilson, was a talk on the history of the once banned alcoholic beverage absinthe. Johns Hopkins University professor Lawrence Principe, discussed 16th and 17th century European books intended to make alchemy a respectable pursuit. In a quiet room off from the main library, CHF invited guests to view a display of rare books on gastronomy, wine, and spirits from CHF’s collection. The display included a 1512 edition of the “Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis,” which a placard described as “the most important early distilling book and arguably the first book on chemical technology ever published.” “We’re the enablers of human experience on this fragile planet,” Liveris noted, making food, clean water, comfortable homes, medicines, and the latest electronics available to a growing world population.  “We know this, but billions of people don’t. Our story isn’t told well…. What a shame if a year from now that didn’t change,” he said. Liveris hoped the gathering would make the evening’s celebrants eager to celebrate chemistry in classrooms, at the dinner table, and throughout the course of their daily activities. “We’ve got to convert the unconverted,” he said. Today he should have the first of many chances planned for the year. Liveris will be among the panelists at the official opening of the International Year of Chemistry in the U.S., which is open to the public. More than 300 people are expected at...

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Reel Science Reviews Tron: Legacy
Dec17

Reel Science Reviews Tron: Legacy

This review is by guest contributor Jovana J. Grbić, Ph.D., the creative director of ScriptPhD.com, which covers science in entertainment and media, and who tweets as @ScriptPhD. It has been 28 years since the release of the groundbreaking science-fiction adventure “Tron,” the story of Kevin Flynn (Bridges), a video-game programmer who gets sucked into the virtual grid of the very game he created, only to disappear forever. Flash-forward to a 27-year-old Sam Flynn (Hedlund): reckless, bored, apathetic, but a regular chip off the old techie block—a geeky rebel without a cause. Encom, the developer of the Tron video game, has now become a software hegemony—think Atari meets Apple—and has strayed far from Kevin’s principle that software should be open to all. After sabotaging the company’s grand operating software launch, Sam is visited by his father’s old partner, Alan Bradley (Boxleitner), who has never given up on Kevin. Alan tells Sam that he’s received a mysterious page from Kevin and begs him to go to the old arcade that he frequented as a kid. There, Sam discovers his dad’s secret underground office and the portal that transports him to the digital grid of Tron, far different now from the utopia his father envisioned. Sam is first grouped with other deficient “programs” for inspection, outfitted with a sleek gamer’s costume and disc (half memory-storage device, half weapon), and thrust into a world of brutal gladiator games where the only goal is survival and the rules change with each treacherous level. His father’s avatar, known as Clu, is no longer the brave warrior and digital replica of Kevin. He is a brutal overlord who committed virtual genocide, hacked the program, and has ultimate plans to teleport to Earth to be with humankind. Sam is rescued from the grid by Quorra (Wilde), an advanced program not initially designed to go off the grid, as well as a self-evolved isometric being or “iso,” which is an entirely new life form—the last surviving one. When reunited with Sam, Kevin recounts getting trapped in the grid after a violent overthrow by Clu and his partner, Tron. In addition to bringing about genocide against the isos, closing the portal to the outside world, they stole Kevin’s original disc for their nefarious purposes. With the help of Quorra and Sam, Kevin has only eight hours to overthrow Clu’s digital army before the portal closes again … forever. “Tron: Legacy” largely has the feel of a two-hour interactive video game, aided both by the color-coded costumes and a catchy, techno-pop soundtrack by Daft Punk. Sci-fi fans, geeks, and gamers will be able to feast on astounding visual mastery, life-size...

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2010 Holiday Gift Guide

Behold, for the 2010 CENtral Science Holiday Gift Guide for the chemist in your life has arrived. Granted, we’re a touch late for Chanukah this year (unless you’re a last-minute shopper), but take advantage of that 8-day grace period, folks. We’ve got some good stuff here. And feel free to leave other suggestions in the comments or check out last year’s gift guide. Science literature means more than journal articles. Three noteworthy books made it to Amazon’s Best of 2010 list: “The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks” (#1), “The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World From the Periodic Table of the Elements” (#100), and “The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York” (#84). What crocheting chemist wouldn’t love to unwrap a peppy little methane ($15) or a venti caffeine ($70)? Etsy purveyor prim&plush can hook you up. For a unique gift, the genetics testing company 23andme is offering their kit for $99 until 12/25 (usually $499). Pair it with a copy of Misha Angrist’s “Here is a Human Being” to fill the void before the kit results are returned. Need to dress up that bottle of wine? We’ve got three options for you, all for a mere $15: WINe, VInO, and BrIBe. Trim your lab tree with these festive wooden element ornaments. Get a set of five for $14.50 or the whole kit-and-kaboodle for $255. Perennial favorite Made With Molecules is featuring pinene as its 2010 holiday ornament ($24). Etsy shop QueInteresante is featuring nifty labels ($1-$22) to transform ordinary Crayolas into chemistry crayons. Perfect for the Little Einstein who always wonders which chemicals look like cerulean blue (aqueous CuSO4). If the little chemist in your life prefers experiments to coloring, try out the Potato Chip Science Kit ($10.77). For the tiniest chemist in your life, CafePress has a bounty of bodysuits. For older kids and grownups, Zazzle.com and Yellowibis.com have plenty of offerings as well. This Erlenmeyer Flask Love Fine Silver necklace is perfect for either the one whom you fell in love with in the lab or the one who loves the lab a bit too much ($50). Help your science fashionista keep her toes warm this winter with these funky socks ($7.50) at Sock It To Me. The safety googles are a nice touch. We nearly swooned over this whimsical miniature chemistry set in hand-blown glass ($74). Individual pieces are also available at the Kiva Ford Glass shop on, you guessed it, Etsy.com. Sure, an iPad ($499 and up) is a pretty nifty gadget. But add The Elements app ($13.99),...

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