What makes an acid an acid and a base a base? Søren Sørensen, born 1868, figured this out when he introduced the concept of pH as a measure of hydrogen ion concentration.
1916 birth of American chemist Ruth Rogan Benerito, a pioneer in the development of wash- and-wear fabrics. Her research resulted in the development of cotton fabrics that are crease and stain resistant and better able to retard flames.
This date marks the death of Paul Vieille, discoverer of nitrocellulose, a key ingredient in nail polish and gunpowder.
Eleuthère Irénée du Pont founded the DuPont company in 1802. January marks the anniversary month of the arrival of the du Pont family in America in 1800.
When Nature fails to drop enough snow or brings a January thaw, skiers use this to keep thing moving smoothly.
In 1861, Hans Goldschmidt found a simple way to produce and use very high temperatures by mixing aluminum with a metallic oxide. The process is used in welding. Today, scientists working at the nano-scale are designing similar techniques in which a filler metal is melted to join metal pieces together.
Harry Fisher, born 1885, inventor of rubber technology, helped the U.S. rubber industry replace tons of natural rubber with a synthetic substitute.
Separation of Rare Earth Elements — used in aluminum baseball bats, electronics and green technologies — first described in 1907.
For the first time in history, a change was made to the atomic weights of some elements listed on the Table of Standard Atomic Weights of the chemical elements found in the inside covers of chemistry textbooks worldwide.
F. August Kekulé presented his six-sided benzene structure to the Société Chimique in Paris, 1865.
Birth in 1881 of Irving Langmuir, renowned chemist and Nobel laureate who was namesake for an American Chemical Society journal.
Chinese New Year: To celebrate, families may give their homes a thorough cleaning, sweeping away any ill-fortune to make way for good luck in the new year. Showers are often one of the least enjoyable places to clean.
In February 1960, materials engineer Roger Bacon published findings on studies of graphite and carbon fibers, which contributed to a revolution in the heat-resistant materials used in aircraft and satellites.
This ‘silly’ toy made its debut this week in 1950 at the International Toy Fair in New York City.
Synthetic diamond makers are targeting the gem market first, but their product could transform many other industries, too
Edwin Land demonstrates Polaroid camera to an Optical Society meeting, 1947, after his daughter asks why she had to wait so long to see her picture.
Friedrich Wöhler wrote a letter to J. J. Berzelius stating that he had synthesized urea, making an organic compound from inorganic materials, 1828. Wöhler and colleague Justus von Liebig were friends who helped make organic chemistry a field of systematic study.
Black History Month, February the United States and Canada and September in the United Kingdom, celebrates the achievements of individuals like Henry Aaron Hill, the first African-American president of the American Chemical Society.
In 1784, Jean Pierre Blanchard made his first successful ascent in a self-built balloon. The following year, he and American physician Dr. John Jeffries, made the first flight over the English Channel.
National Bureau of Standards, later named the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), created in 1901.
Today in 1947, Willard Libby and coworkers developed radiocarbon dating, a method used to determine the age of ancient mummies and fossils.
A variety of waxes, oils, pigments, and emollients in this product have helped people put on a happy faces for years.
Air-filled tires came in 1888 when John Boyd Dunlop wrapped a rubber tube inflated with air around the wheel rims on his son’s tricycle. Too bad he didn’t have this on hand.
Henri-Étienne Sainte-Claire Deville, born 1818, invented the first industrial process for producing aluminum. In 1854, he built on earlier work of German chemist, Friedrich Woelher, and found a method of preparing aluminum, based on aluminum chloride and sodium.
Synthetic Rubber Program first described in 1928. Export restrictions of natural rubber sparked interest in finding ways to synthesize the material.
In 1957, researchers developed a single-step way to produce acrylonitrile — a key raw material for many everyday fibers and plastics.
This invention, patented more than 180 years ago, insures you’ll be well protected against April showers.
The U.S. Bowling Congress kicks off its Women’s Championship Tournament this month. Polymer science and surface chemistry play an important role in this very popular sport.
For 75 years, the Committee on Professional Training (CPT) has promoted excellence in postsecondary education and provided leadership to the ACS in the professional training of chemists.
On this day in 2000, the American Chemical Society designated the discovery of this element within natural gas as a National Historic Chemical Landmark at The University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas.
Of all the standard driving safety devices—seat belts, air bags, antilock brakes—many of us take these for granted.
Wallace Carothers, born 1896, studied the chemistry of giant molecules, leading to production of the first synthetic rubber made in the U.S. and the production of nylon.
In 1840, the adhesive postage stamp was first sold in Great Britain. Since then, adhesives have improved greatly, and in 1968 chemists developed these handy little notepapers with an adhesive that allows it to be repositioned with ease.
Monocrystalline silicon is one of the most important technological materials of the last decades. It uses include computer chips and high-performance solar cells.
In addition to his work with the properties of gases, Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac contributed to the development of the sulfuric acid industry. Gay-Lussac died on this day in 1850.
Death of Roy J. Plunkett, who accidentally discovered Teflon in 1938 when he found that a tank of gaseous tetrafluoroethylene had polymerized to a white powder. During WWII this new polymer was applied as a corrosion-resistant coating to protect metal equipment.
Paper, a mainstay of everyday life from books to store receipts, traces its origins to China and Egypt. Most paper today is made from trees using a wood processing technique called pulping.
Spring cleaning is often accompanied by a wealth of do-it-yourself projects using this ubiquitous abrasive.
Born in 1854, Edgar Fahs Smith was regarded as a a pioneer in the study of the history and culture of chemistry in the United States during the early decades of the twentieth century.
In 1857, Robert Mushet received a U.S. patent for an improved method of manufacturing steel to make it more malleable. In 1894, chemists began experiments leading to low-iron alloys that could be dissolved in steel to impart toughness, strength and corrosion resistance.
An inventor of industrial-strength fibers that today protect and save thousands of lives.
The sixth-most cited paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, “Electric Moments of Molecules in Liquids,” was submitted in 1936, paving the way to a better understanding of polar liquids.
In 1960, Robert B Woodward first synthesized chlorophyll, one of many natural products whose structure he defined, garnering him a Nobel Prize in 1965.
Prussian blue was the first major synthetic pigment that created an affordable alternative to the expensive mineral-based pigment, ultramarine.
Joel E. Goldmacher and Joseph A. Castellano filed a patent application in 1966 for the first room-temperature liquid crystal display. Their work paved the way for today’s 100 billion dollar industry in low-power LCDs, found in popular consumer goods such as laptop computers, televisions and cell phones.
What makes ice cream taste so good? Studies on physical chemistry and flavor release have benefited this sweet treat.
Patented in 1968, this groovy lighting fixture is pure liquid motion created by matching the density of two insoluble ingredients.
Henry E. Roscoe announced the isolation of vanadium in 1867. This transition metal, which helps strengthen steel, was first discovered in Mexico over 200 years ago but was lost in a shipwreck before its identity could be verified.
Hiram Maxim received a patent in 1890 for smokeless gunpowder, an innovation leading to the automatic and semi-automatic firearm. At the time, he likely didn’t anticipate that traces of gunpowder could someday be used to link a suspect to a crime by forensic scientists.
The Age of Plastics dawned in 1907 when Belgian-born chemist Leo Hendrik Baekeland made the first plastic.
The first standards for the meter and kilogram were deposited in the National Archives of France in 1799. The kilogram is the only unit in the International System of Units still defined by an artifact rather than a fundamental physical property that can be reproduced in different laboratories.
The 2002 Presidential Green Chemistry Award winner NatureworksTM polymers are made from plant-based starting materials through an environmentally friendly process. The fibers and packaging can be recycled or composted at the end of their lifetime.
The versatile element, iron, facilitates essential biological functions, provides colors for the artist’s palette, and is abundant on Earth as well as on other planets.
Canadian geologist Abraham Gesner patented the process for obtaining kerosene by distilling bituminous coal in 1854. Gesner was a rather flamboyant character who played a major role in the emergence of energy in the early to mid-19th century.
RightfitTM Organic pigments received a Presidential Green Chemistry award in 2004. The 2011 awards will be given this week at the 15th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference.
Edward Morley’s 1895 paper provides way to determine atomic weight, making chemistry less laborious and more precise.
Despite the World War I British naval blockade, Germany maintained a constant supply of fertilizers and explosives thanks to the Haber-Bosch process for fixing nitrogen from air, which Fritz Haber presented to the German chemical company BASF in 1909.
Bigger, brighter and more colorful every year, fireworks cap off Independence Day celebrations around the country.
An exceptionally versatile chemical, alum has been especially vital as a mordant in the dyeing industry and in the area of water treatment.
Robert Goddard’s patent of the first liquid fuel rocket in 1914 marked the dawn of modern aeronautics. Since then, researchers have developed various materials and lubricants that can hold up in space and on Earth.
Astronomers’ understanding of stellar evolution takes a step forward with Jason Cardelli’s 1994 publication showing the abundances of the heaviest elements, including thallium and lead, yet detected in interstellar dust.
Blowing bubbles is one way to while away summer’s lazy days.
The commercialization of aluminum began in 1886 when Charles Martin Hall discovered a way to separate pure aluminum from its ore.
The quick-bonding super-strong adhesive, Super Glue, can support more than a ton of weight, but keep it off your fingers!
King Charles II grants a charter to the Royal Society (UK) in 1662, establishing one of the world’s oldest scientific societies. The society officially started in 1660 when a group of 12, including Robert Boyle, met at Gresham College and decided to meet weekly to witness experiments and discuss scientific topics.
On this date the first atomic bomb test took place in 1945 at the Trinity Site, Alamogordo Air Force Base in New Mexico. One of the scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project, which developed the bomb, was Glenn Seaborg, a towering figure in 20th century chemistry.
High impact resistance and excellent transparency make polycarbonate the material of choice for water bottles, windshields, and eyeglasses.
Russian botanist M. S. Tswett submitted the first paper on chromatography to the Journal of the German Botanical Society, in 1906. His work laid the foundation for the use of chromatography in countless analytic applications, such as drug discovery and food purity testing. Today, the demands for faster and more efficient chemical separations have guided innovators toward the extremes of particle size, pressure, temperature, and other chromatography parameters.
Sodium polyacrylate, which can hold up to 800 times its weight in water, has found applications from home to Hollywood.
Chemistry, art conservation, and space-age materials meet as conservators try to preserve the space suits worn by NASA astronauts.
The laboratory synthesis of alizarin, the vibrant red chemical in madder dye, transformed the dyeing industry and laid important foundations for the future of the chemical industry.
Death of John Dalton (1844) who investigated the physical and chemical properties of matter and deduced an Atomic Theory (1803) whereby atoms of the same element are the same, but different from the atoms of any other element.
A metal of great importance to human civilization, tin is a key component in the alloys bronze and pewter, as well as lending its name to several modern kitchen items.
Polyesters have a diverse set of applications including fibers, fabrics, disposable beverage containers, wood finishes, and films to archive and store paper.
Production and distribution of radioisotopes at Oak Ridge National Laboratory helps advance medicine, industry, and agriculture.
Powering our cell phones, iPods, and laptops, lithium-ion batteries make our electronic technology portable.
Cut glass objects of lead crystal were developed in response to chemical properties and political factors.
Award-winning low VOC paints from Sherwin-Williams provide the superior surface of solvent-based paints without all the smell.
Inks made from dyes vs. from pigments have different advantages and disadvantages and are ideal for different types of printing jobs.
Acrylic Emulsion Technology transformed home painting from a smelly, messy ordeal into a cleaner and more user-friendly process.
How is Polyvinylchloride used in a house? Let me count the ways.
Although a failure as an anti-cancer drug, AZT has become a front-line defense in managing HIV infections.
The ‘easily recycled metal’, copper has numerous applications including electrical wiring, roofing materials, and for anti-microbial surfaces.
Sodium bicarbonate, commonly known as baking soda, is a versatile household chemical with applications for every room of the house.
An example of a banned substance that is still in use for limited, nonhazardous applications.
The invention of integrated circuits to allow rapid fabrication of large arrays of tiny transistors has been the cornerstone of smaller, faster, and more reliable technology.
Chemical and instrumental analysis revealed the rich story behind the painting, The Feast of the Gods.
An all-season material, fiberglass is used for boat hulls and surfboards as well as for thermal and electrical insulation.
Known predominantly for its exploration of space, NASA also leads research efforts to improve our understanding of Earth’s atmosphere.
Graphite pencils, an essential back-to-school supply, have an interesting history.
Chandler Chemistry Laboratory at Lehigh University, which created the model of modern chemical education, opened in 1884.
Carmine, a red dye extracted from cochineal insects, is an example of a chemical product created in nature’s laboratory.
Date of pamphlet in which Jacobus van’t Hoff proposed a tetrahedral structure for carbon, 1874. It was not universally embraced, but in 1901 he received first Nobel Prize in chemistry.
A must-have for first day of school, these small bits of molded rubber are handy to have when you need to fix something written in pencil or pen.
The brilliant pigments of crayons allow children of all ages to color their worlds.
Scotch® Transparent Tape takes hold in 1930, when 3M sent its first roll of cellophane tape to a prospective client.
When the World Cup for rugby opens in New Zealand, the action will unfold on top of this innovation.
Williams-Miles History of Chemistry Collection, a collection of rare and old chemistry books, opened at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., 1992.
Scientists announce discovery of fullerenes, or “buckyballs,” the scientific achievement that gave birth to nanotechnology.
Phosphorus plays a crucial role sustaining life, which is why it is crucial to fertilize crops sufficiently, but without adding too much of a good thing.
The back-to-school stack of loose leaf notebook paper on every child’s desk is the product of numerous chemical and engineering processes.
In India, Engineers’ Day is celebrated on 15 September every year. In the U.S., the field of chemical engineering got its start at MIT in 1888.
In 1941, a Kem-Tone® paint, waterborne wall paint was introduced, spurring the expansion of “do-it-yourself” painting.
Named for the Titans of Greek mythology, titanium facilitates our society’s mobility whether through artificial joints or through use in airplanes and spacecraft.
One of the oldest art forms, the fresco, depends on a solid understanding of acid-base chemistry.
This iridescent stone, known in modern times as the birthstone for October, is comprised of water and quartz.
Baseball player Don Larson pitched a perfect game in the 1956 World Series. To better grip the ball, he likely relied on an ingredient from the Delaware River.
Bakelite opened the door to the Age of Plastics and seeded the growth of a worldwide industry that today employs more than 60 million people.
Production of the world’s first totally synthetic textile fiber, nylon, began in 1939 when the first nylon plant began operations.
National Chemistry Week, Oct. 16-22: There’s an App for that. Chemists on the go can check the safety of cosmetic ingredients, scroll through millions of chemical structures and molecular formulas, and model liquid chromatography flow rates.
Scientists and farmers have developed a number of strategies to reduce the need for large quantities of pesticides and fertilizers when growing cotton.
“Mel’s Diner,” “Lovelace Motel, no vacancies,” and “Blue Moon espresso coffee”
Fiber optics, which transmit pulses of light through tiny, glass fibers, have transformed communication technology.
Tide®, the first heavy-duty synthetic detergent, debuted in October 1946 replacing traditional soaps that didn’t clean well in hard water and left a residue of scum.
Chemical company DuPont begins mass-production of the first commercially available synthetic rubber, Duprene (later named neoprene) in 1932. Because it was difficult and expensive to manufacture, the company turned its attention to developing a synthetic “superpolymer,” ultimately leading to the development of nylon.
Because of natural chemical processes that can attack and degrade paper, librarians and conservationists rely on chemical strategies to preserve our written heritage.
Memory metals have the unusual property of returning to their original parent shape upon heating even after extensive bending and deforming.
It might come as a great surprise that ‘blue jeans’ are dyed by first submerging denim in a pale yellow solution – but that is the mysterious nature of indigo.
Scores of U.S. veterans can celebrate Veteran’s Day thanks to high-tech ceramics that provide protection against bullets or other projectiles.
Synthesizing succinic acid from bio-based starting materials could provide an important and plentiful petroleum alternative for the manufacture of everything from de-icers to pesticides.
Polypropylene and high-density polyethylene plastics — the plastic that made the Hula Hoop® possible — discovered in 1955.
Platinum: the metal and the metaphor are associated with high privilege and outstanding performance.
Chemists use models to envision molecules, to explore complex systems and to predict chemical reactions.
Henry Gwyn Jeffreys Moseley, born on this day in 1887, organized the modern Periodic Table of the Elements on the basis of atomic number, or proton number, which uniquely identifies a chemical element and helps predict the properties and reactivity of the elements.
Charles Hatchett announced discovery of columbium (niobium, Nb, element 41) before the Royal Society, 1801. Niobium is used in jet engines and rockets.
Adhesives bind our wounds, repair our mistakes, and help attach that gold star to a job well done.
Mauve was one of the first dyes derived from a synthetic process rather than from natural materials and its availability prompted a fad for purple in Europe in the 1850s.
Charles Holmes Herty, born 1867, found a way to make paper from pine trees, creating badly needed jobs in the South and savings millions of Northern trees.
The different classifications of paint such as oils, acrylics, and latex refer to the ‘binder,’ the component that sticks the colors to the wall or to a canvas and protects the finished product from damage.
Whether ringing in the holidays, gracing a winter evening with a chandelier of lights, or simply opening a door, brass lends a glowing touch.
In addition to wool’s outstanding performance as a cold weather fabric, its fire resistant properties make it a desirable material for carpets and upholstery.
Hermann Staudinger, won Nobel Prize in Chemistry for polymer science work, 1953. His research helped spur the development of polymer science in industry.
In 1902, a group of students formed Alpha Chi Sigma, the only national professional fraternity specializing in chemistry. The organization now has a membership of more than 63,000 men and women.
Used for money, jewelry, tableware and making mirrors, the lustrous white metal silver is also a common feature of holiday decorations.
Whether arranging flowers in a decorative vase, setting a table for a holiday celebration, or indulging in a relaxing cup of tea, porcelain is often a part of special events or everyday pleasures.
Thomas Andrews, born 1813, demonstrated the continuity of the gaseous and liquid states showing that during changes between the two states, physical properties display no abrupt changes.
In spite of its tendency to break when handled roughly, optical transparency and thermal properties make glass ideal for items ranging from drinking vessels and laboratory containers to works of art.
Photography is a powerful means of capturing memories through pictures and of connecting with friends and relatives separated by distance or time.