St. Berchtold’s Day, Switzerland. Named for Duke Berchtold V of Zähringen, who founded Bern, the capital of Switzerland. Eating nuts is a tradition on this day.
Henry Bradley patented oleomargarine in 1871. This butter substitute was touted for its health benefits — until more studies clouded the picture.
Death of food chemist George Washington Carver, who discovered hundreds of new uses for crops such as the peanuts.
This chemical, found in the flesh and seeds of chili peppers, can put a sizzle in a cold January day.
Sir John Ernest Walker born 1941, helped unravel the process that creates ATP, the molecule that transports energy throughout the body.
January 1922, the first successful treatment of diabetes with insulin, co-discovered by chemist Charles Best.
National Eye Care Month: These shades aren’t just cool, they help protect eyes from the sun’s high-energy UV light.
Horace Wells, born 1815, gave patients a fit of giggles when he became the first to use nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, as an anesthetic.
King James I charters the first English organization of pharmacists, 1617, long before these inactive ingredients in medicines could help drug delivery.
Peter Agre, born 1949, discovered “channels” that transport water through cell membranes, garnering him a 2003 Nobel Prize. Studies of the channels have helped in understanding kidney disease.
National Dental Month: Exotic compounds discovered by using high-throughput technology help take the pain out of dental work.
In 1915, Joseph Goldberger begins the experiment that demonstrates that pellagra is a dietary disease. Pellegra is caused by having too little niacin or Vitamin B3 in the diet.
Commemoration of test strips, used by millions to help manage diseases such as diabetes as well as kidney and liver conditions.
Robert Holton announces total synthesis of taxol, an important cancer drug, 1994. Taxol is used to treat breast cancer, lung cancer, ovarian cancer and AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma.
Ira Remsen, born 1846, founder of American Chemical Journal, made life sweet for millions when he discovered saccharin.
Death of Moses Gomberg, 1947, who opened the study of free radicals in 1900 when he inadvertently prepared the first one, triphenylmethyl. Free radicals are essential to body functioning and are used in the production of plastics and other synthetic materials.
Birthday in 1884 of Polish biochemist Casimir Funk, who realized that certain substances in food were essential to good health, and named tham “vitamines,” with “vita” meaning vitality and “amines” meaning chemical compounds containing nitrogen.
In 1938, DuPont began commercial production of nylon toothbrush bristles for the so-called “Miracle Tuft Toothbrush.” Before 1938, the world relied on toothbrush bristles of neck hairs from wildwild boars and hogs. Today, chemists are still developing new materials to keep you smiling.
Reinhold and Ruth Erica Benesch co-discovered how hemoglobin works like an oxygen delivery truck, carrying oxygen molecules to cells that need it. Ruth Erica Benesch was born this day in 1925.
1931 death of Otto Wallach, who analyzed fragrant essential oils to determine the molecular structure of terpene compounds. Terpenes were of importance in medicine and the perfume industry.
Linus Pauling, born 1901, applied quantum mechanics to the study of molecular structures and chemical bonding. He received the 1954 Nobel Prize for Chemistry and introduced the concept of electronegativity — the ability of an atom to attract electrons to form bonds.
Pfizer opened the world’s first large-scale penicillin facility in 1944, making it possible to mass produce germ-killing medicine.
In 1899, Felix Hoffman was issued a U.S. patent for Aspirin. He had successfully created a chemically pure and stable form of acetylsalicylic acid in 1897. Aspirin is still used today to fight pain and swelling.
Aaron Lapin received a patent in 1955 for what may have been the first mainline aerosol food product — whipped cream dessert topping in a spray can — as food technology began its march toward the modern era of molecular gastronomy.
The molecule that is the basis for heredity, DNA, contains the patterns for constructing proteins in the body, including the various enzymes. A team of scientists, Rosalind Franklin, James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins determined its structure.
Bausch & Lomb, incorporated as Bausch & Lomb Optical Co. in 1908, has used materials from Plexiglas to silicone hydrogels to help people make eye contact.
Neil Bartlett demonstrates reactive noble gases, 1962. Today, noble gas compounds produce laser beams used in eye surgery and create anti-tumor agents.
Wilhelm Friedrich Kühne, born 1837, coined the term enzyme, but it was Leonor Michaelis and Maud Leonora Menten who showed how these complex compounds make possible the chemical reactions of life.
Crawford Long first used ether in 1842 to anesthetize a patient to remove a neck tumor, marking the beginning of the use of anesthesia during surgeries. To celebrate this occurrence, this day is now designated as National Doctor’s Day.
Francis Crick and James Dewey Watson mailed brief article on the double-helix structure of DNA to Nature in 1953. More recently, scientists have designed of a new type of DNA.
Synthesis of vitamin B6 was announced by Merck, Sharp & Dohme in 1939. This vitamin has a wide variety of functions in the body.
Marshall Gates and G. Tschudi announced synthesis of morphine in 1956. Considered to be the first true drug, it remains the gold standard for relieving severe pain.
Percy Lavon Julian, born 1899, brought relief to millions with aches and pains caused by rheumatoid arthritis. His synthesis of cortisone made the treatment affordable.
Otto Fritz Meyerhof, born 1884, showed that there was a fixed relationship between the consumption of oxygen and the metabolism of lactic acid in the muscle, garnering him a Nobel Prize in 1922.
In 1810, a U.S. patent for pineapple cheese was issued to L.M. Norton of Troy, Pennsylvania. Cheese is one of the oldest processed foods known to mankind, and process cheese products such as Cheez Whiz can add flavor to broccoli or cauliflower.
Eduard Buchner, born 1860, was awarded the 1907 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for demonstrating that the fermentation of carbohydrates results from the action of different enzymes contained in yeast and not the yeast cell itself. Such complex chemistry is used to develop alcoholic drinks such as this.
Although a year-round treat, spring uniquely promises brightly colored marshmallows shaped like chicks and bunnies.
This popular root is used worldwide as a flavor and a medicine.
In 1856, Eben Horsford received a patent for calcium acid phosphate, one of the ingredients in the basic formula still used today for the manufacture of Rumford Baking Powder.
This ‘instant’ classic was first unveiled at the World’s Fair in Buffalo, NY this week in 1901.
Occupational Safety and Health Professional (OSHP) Day. Alice Hamilton made the American workplace less dangerous by exposing dangerous working conditions in early twentieth-century America.
Mother’s Day: One of the new tools in the medicine kit of Dr. Moms everywhere makes it easier to mend those cuts, scratches, and scrapes.
Eleven is the theme for the day, so it’s no surprise that Sodium —atomic number 11 — is everywhere, too. Sodium compounds are among the most frequently used materials for industrial and domestic use, and salt is needed for human life.
During pool season a cornucopia of additives keeps pool water sparkling and clean.
Together, NMR and MRI revolutionized the practice of chemistry and medicine by providing fast, non-destructive, and non-invasive means for the observation of matter from the atomic to the macroscopic scale.
Max Perutz, born this date in 1914, received the 1962 Nobel Prize for his studies of the structure of hemoglobin, the protein that transports oxygen from the lungs to the tissues via blood cells.
Scientists decipher the genetic code in 1961 experiment using Synthetic RNA, showing how messenger RNA transcribes genetic information from DNA.
In 1951, a patent for improved sulfonamide drugs was issued to James W. Clapp and Richard O. Roblin. Sulfonamides — discovered in 1932 by Gerhard Domagk — were the first chemical substances systematically used to cure bacterial infections in humans.
The first American woman to earn a chemistry Ph.D., Lloyd introduced a beet sweetening agent as a sugar substitute.
These products help people get a jump-start on their summer glow without exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation.
Ibuprofen, commonly used as an alternative to aspirin, received an environmental make-over of its industrial production process in 1997.
Pure Food and Drug Act signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt, 1906. As time wore on, it became clear that a stronger, more a enforceable law was needed and in 1938 the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was passed.
Fritz A. Lipmann, born in 1899, discovered coenzyme A and described the central role of ATP in metabolism; he received the Nobel Prize in 1953.
Rockefeller University, incorporated in 1901, was among the first to research protein and nucleic acid chemistry.
FDA approved Tagamet® — a widely prescribed treatment for ulcers and heartburn — bringing relief to millions.
Northern latitudes recognize the June solstice as the start of summer – and sunbathers everywhere slather on this material to prevent sunburn.
Many summer athletes ward off dehydration and carbohydrate loss by chugging these typically brightly-colored beverages.
Robert R. Williams pressed his wife’s washing machine into service as a centrifuge to begin his research on the molecular structure of vitamin B1.
Iodine and its isotopes keep us healthy in a variety of different ways.
The French celebrate Bastille Day — La Fete Nationale — in commemoration of the 1789 storming of the Bastille, one of the main events in the French Revolution. Wine is strategically paired with many of the foods typically eaten at picnics commemorating this national holiday.
Birth in 1921 of Rosalyn Yalow, who was awarded the 1977 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her description of the radioimmunological assay (RIA) technique and her insights into peptide hormones such as insulin and the diseases resulting from their improper regulation.
With summer’s hot days comes more bared skin, and more opportunity for people to show off their tattoos.
Death in 1994 of chemist Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, who used x-ray crystallography to identify the structure of insulin, penicillin, and vitamin B12. She received the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1964, making her the third woman, following Marie Curie and Irene Joliot-Curie, to win a Nobel Prize in chemistry.
Cisplatin, a drug with the ability to target and kill cancer cells, is a powerful weapon the fight against cancer.
Hair stylists apply numerous chemical principles as they create curly or straight hair.
Bioprospecting in the hot springs at Yellowstone led to one of the most valuable techniques for DNA analysis used in biochemistry and medicine.
Scavenging oxygen during the fabrication of vacuum tubes and aiding medical imaging of the digestive tract are two important applications of the element, barium.
The frozen food industry was born in 1930, when Clarence Birdseye found a way to flash-freeze foods.
Selman Abraham Waksman co-discovered streptomycin along with Albert Schatz. After the discovery of penicillin, Waksman played a major role in initiating a search for antibiotics among microbes. He died in 1973.
Although a failure as an anti-cancer drug, AZT has become a front-line defense in managing HIV infections.
Although the sink and the dishwasher may be right next to each other in the kitchen, detergents for cleaning dishes are very specific for one method vs. the other.
Originally created to can and store excess produce from the garden and provide vegetables in winter, pickles are now a common addition to summer picnics and cookouts.
Throughout history, lipstick has been made from a wide variety of ingredients and spanned the full range of fashion: from ‘not-dressed-without-it’ to scandalous and back.
Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin and its potential uses in 1928, leading to the development of one of the 20th century’s greatest lifesavers.
Albert Szent-Györgyi, born 1893, isolated ascorbic acid, the agent in citrus juice that helped combat the deadly disease scurvy.
Oktoberfest Begins in Munich, and the drinks will flow thanks to this brewing process.
The mineral selenium is a micronutrient found in meats and nuts and is an important part of a healthy diet.
Safety helmets for a wide range of conditions have become more effective by exploiting the availability of rugged lightweight plastics.
The class of cholesterol-reducing medicines called statins directly attack a major factor contributing to heart disease that kills one in four Americans every year.
The ingredients in shampoo are carefully chosen and combined to result in clean, manageable hair.
Unlike other vitamins, we can absorb Vitamin D from our diets or synthesize it directly through exposure to sunlight.
From mild to spicy, mustard’s zing depends as much on precise chemistry as on the seed itself.
Chlorine, a common component of drinking water and swimming pools, destroys germs and has helped to virtually eliminate waterborne illnesses like cholera and typhoid that once killed thousands of Americans each year.
Tamoxifen used to target estrogen-sensitive breast cancer cells is an important step on the path to curing this disease.
Born in 1803, John Gorrie, was granted the first U.S. patent for mechanical refrigeration in 1851. Mary Engle Pennington, also born this month in 1872, spent her career studying refrigeration and how best to use it for food preservation.
On this date in 1957, the Soviet Union launches the first satellite in space, Sputnik I, Today, space exploration takes on a new meaning, as scientists examine ways to send people into space for long periods of time.
Nobel Prize-winning research resulted in the discovery of cortisone, which has eased chronic joint pain for decades.
Hermann Emil Fischer, born 1852, discovered a family of bases called purines. Caffeine and theobromine—found in tea, coffee, and chocolate—are two familiar purines. Fischer received a Nobel Prize in 1902.
Death of Paul Hermann Müller, Swiss chemist and Nobel laureate. His work helped in efforts to control diseases such as malaria and yellow fever.
A favorite gift for Sweetest Day, this yummy concoction contains around 800 chemical compounds.
During this month in 1951, the first oral contraceptive, the steroid hormone norethindrone, developed by Carl Djerassi and co-workers at Syntex.
Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard initiated a test of the idea of pasteurization by heating blood and urine in sealed flasks, 1862.
It wasn’t until the 1950s that a vigorous tooth brushing campaign was launched to encourage young children to brush twice daily to reduce tooth decay.
Vitamin K plays an essential role in the blood clotting process – another good reason to eat your vegetables.
National Potato Day: Instant mashed potatoes are made possible thanks to this technology, developed in the 1950s.
American biochemist Marie Maynard Daly, died 2003, was the first African American woman in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry, awarded by Columbia University in 1947.
For Halloween tomorrow night, many ghouls and goblins may change their hair color – whether it rinses right out or stays until the hair grows out is a matter of chemistry.
After a long evening of ringing doorbells and parading in costume, some trick-or-treaters may find this sweet treat in their bags.
In 1955, Carlton Schwerdt announced the crystallization of poliomyelitis virus– an essential step in the eventual development of the polio vaccine. Scientists working in vaccine development today have come up with new ways to deliver vaccines, including inhaled powders, microneedle patches, and even bananas.
Peruvian Quechua Indians discovered the first effective treatment for malaria.
Good Nutrition Month: Nutritionist and biochemist Gladys L. A. Emerson, isolated vitamin E in the 1930s. She then went on to work on the whole B complex of vitamins.
In addition to its use as a laundry additive, bleach’s antimicrobial activities have seen widespread use in cleaning up houses flooded by hurricanes or tropical storms.
Vital for healthy eyes, Vitamin A is luckily found in plenty of food sources including animal protein, dairy products, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Small quantities of radioactive pharmaceuticals minimize risk while creating invaluable opportunities for physicians to image and evaluate the body without surgery.
Paul Zamecnik (1912 – 2009) was the discoverer of cell-free protein synthesis systems, transfer RNA and the antisense principle. Nov 22, 2011 would have been his 99th birthday.
Although the amino acid, tryptophan, is especially associated with turkey, it is actually present in many every-day foods including poultry, eggs, cheese, meat, and fish.
Probably no one misses the task of clapping together elementary school erasers to clean them, but chalk is still essential to many sports and art endeavors.
Hard or sweet, apple cider is the iconic beverage of the season.
Metallic magnesium finds applications in lightweight alloys and in high-temperature combustion reactions. Not to be confused, magnesium ions play important roles in hundreds of biological enzymes.
Following a heart attack or stroke, clot busters are powerful emergency medications that break up blood clots. Blood thinners prevent the formation of future problematic blood clots.
Cloves are a potent spice used in different cuisines from around the world.
Vitamin C not only plays an important role in good health, it has been a significant factor in the historic exploration of our world.
Husband and wife team Gerty Theresa Cori and Carl Ferdinand Cori identified the process that muscle cells use to make and store energy — a finding that has helped in treating diabetes.
The 42nd annual Christmas Chemistry Lecture given by Professor Bassam Shakashiri on December 10th and 11th celebrates the chemistry of element #42, molybdenum.
Generations of aspiring ballerinas have gotten their start by dancing in December productions of The Nutcracker. For their leaps, turns, and pirouettes, dancers rely on rosin to secure safe landing.
In the cold of winter, bread with its complex chemistry, is at once a daily staple, holiday treat, and a symbol of life itself.
Chemistry has helped cosmetics evolve from concoctions of messy, toxic ingredients to today’s formulations that yield smooth, easy, and long-lasting applications of color to adorn the eyes.
Listed among the ingredients of foods such as salad dressing, ice cream and canned soup is a substance called xanthan gum. This groundbreaking product and a process for producing it was discovered in the 1950s by chemist Allene Rosalind Jeanes, who died this day in 1995.
Frankincense And Myrrh, aromatic resins formed from the sap of trees, may have medicinal properties.
Silver was the original material used to make tinsel, the metallic ribbons that decorate Christmas trees.
Christmas present is made all the sweeter to mind and heart as our sense of smell helps us recall and savor memories of Christmas past.
The pungent flavor of candy canes, peppermint is also favored for ice cream, toothpaste, and tea.
The first patent for this chewy treat was awarded today in 1869, though the ancient Greeks had discovered their own version.
Often a finishing touch on primping for a party, perfumes are complex combinations of natural and synthetic chemicals.
Toasting in the New Year: champagne and all other sparkling wines must conform to just one law, Henry’s Law.