LANL celebrates International Year of Chemistry

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By The Staff

In order to bring attention to and celebrate the achievements of chemistry and its contributions to civilization, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed a resolution declaring 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry.

The year 2011 was selected because it coincides with the 100th anniversary of Marie Curie’s Nobel Prize in chemistry and the 100th anniversary of the founding of the International Association of Chemical Societies (now IUPAC, the International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry).

The Chemistry Division and Los Alamos National Laboratory are doing their part.

They are celebrating the International Year of Chemistry through a series of activities, lectures, and events, many of which are open to the public.

“Our goal, which is consonant with the greater goal of the United Nations and IUPAC, is to educate concerning the discipline of chemistry and share some of our excitement concerning the wonders of chemistry,” said chemistry division leader Carol Burns, who was just appointed to the post this year. “By highlighting chemistry, the United Nations hopes to interest more bright young people in careers in this important and fascinating field.”

Coming up this month and in November, the Chemistry Division and LANL will sponsor a periodic table poster contest for schools in Northern New Mexico. Also on the docket will be the LANL director’s Colloquia with details still to be announced.

Already this year, an educational booth was set up at the Worker Safety and Security Team Festival in July and a week of activities was held at the Bradbury Museum in August.

The Chemistry Division sponsored a $24,000 donation of glassware and equipment to Northern New Mexico College and it also had a booth at the Next Big Idea Festival last month in Los Alamos.

At the Next Big Idea, there were a number of experiments taking place at the booth, which featured molecular models and a display of information about Curie.

In one experiment, a backpack portable Laser-induced Breakdown Spectroscopy instrument was used to demonstrate remote detection of elements using a laser beam. Another chemist showed children how to make silly putty by using school glue, borax and water. And another scientist explained the nature of hydrogen bonding in water.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) co-sponsored an International Year of Chemistry.

Senate Resolution 283 “recognizes the achievements made in the field of chemistry and the contributions of those achievements to the well-being of humankind…and provides solutions that successfully address global challenges involving safe food and water, alternate sources of energy, improved health and a healthy and sustainable environment.”