The federal government’s first physical science research laboratory was chartered by Congress on March 3, 1901, as the National Bureau of Standards, which became the National Institute of Standards and Technology in 1988. Recognizing the critical importance of chemical measures and standards, NIST established the Chemistry Division as one of its first programs.
Prior to its merger with the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1967 to form Carnegie Mellon University, the nonprofit Mellon Institute for Industrial Research was a major, independent research corporation dedicated to promoting applied research for industry and educating scientific researchers for the benefit of society as a whole. The Institute educated hundreds of fellows for careers in industrial research and helped to sell the very idea of research to manufacturers.
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, published in 1962, was a landmark in the development of the modern environmental movement. Carson’s scientific perspective and rigor created a work of substantial depth and credibility that sparked widespread debate within the scientific community and the broader public about the effect of pesticides on the natural world. These discussions led to new policies that protect our air, our water, and, ultimately, our health and safety.
The American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2001. Founded in 1876 in New York City, the Society now has 186 local sections in all 50 states, international chapters, and 32 technical divisions that bring together scientists with interests ranging from small business to environmental protection.
The text of the plaque commemorating the landmark reads:
Izaak Maurits Kolthoff (1894–1993) has been described as the father of modern analytical chemistry for his research and teaching that transformed the ways by which scientists separate, identify, and quantify chemical substances. Once a collection of empirical recipes and prescriptions, the field of analytical chemistry is today an essential branch of chemistry built upon solid theoretical principles and experimental techniques, the basis of which was formed over the course of Kolthoff’s nearly 80-year career.
As much as we know today about the planets of the solar system, it’s almost incomprehensible that a mere 50 years ago we knew almost nothing about them. Observations of even Mars and Venus, Earth’s closest planetary neighbors, through Earth-based telescopes had provided only the most rudimentary information on their physical characteristics and essentially no information on the chemical properties of the planets and their atmospheres.
Charles David Keeling of Scripps Institution of Oceanography was the leading authority in establishing the global atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) record. In 1958, Keeling began measuring atmospheric CO2 concentrations from Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory. Using rigorous analytical procedures, he revealed new information about natural and man-caused carbon trends.
Frozen foods have become a staple of the modern diet. Freezing allows consumers to have access to foods previously unavailable or available only seasonally, and it provides convenience for many families. But frozen foods became commonplace only after World War II, in part due to research conducted at the Western Regional Research Center which helped determine the proper time and temperature at which various foods should be frozen to insure their quality and stability.
The plaque commemorating the research reads:
Flavor—encompassing both aroma and taste—provides the defining characteristic of how we experience food. Flavor has long been an enigma to scientists: Aristotle described two categories of taste, sweet and bitter. Today we recognize five basic tastes in food: sweetness, saltiness, sourness, bitterness and umami (savory). But what are the scientific components of flavor, and how can flavor be studied, quantified and replicated?
The story is so improbable it defies belief: a soil sample from Japan stops suffering in Africa. It starts when a scientist discovers a lowly bacterium near a golf course outside Tokyo. A team of scientists in the United States finds that the bacterium produces compounds that impede the activity of nematode worms. It is developed into a drug that wards off parasites in countless pets and farm animals, averting billions of dollars in losses worldwide.
"I propose this evening to speak to you on a new kind of radiation or light emission from atoms and molecules." With these prophetic words, Professor C. V. Raman of Calcutta University began his lecture to the South Indian Science Association in Bangalore on March 16, 1928. Raman proceeded to…Read More
In his laboratory at Western Reserve University (Now Case Western Reserve University), Edward W. Morley carried out his research on the atomic weight of oxygen that provided a new standard to the science of chemistry. The accuracy of his analyses has never been superseded by chemical means. His…Read More
Working in Bailey Hall on December 7, 1905, Hamilton P. Cady and David F. McFarland discovered significant amounts of helium in a natural gas sample from Dexter, Kansas. Cady and McFarland subsequently analyzed more than 40 other gas samples, showing that helium, previously thought to be rare on…Read More
In his search for a more economical way to make aluminum, Canadian inventor Thomas Leopold Willson accidentally discovered the first commercially viable process for making calcium carbide, which is used for production of acetylene gas, at a location in North Carolina. This chance discovery…Read More
On January 4, 1891, Herbert H. Dow succeeded in producing bromine electrolytically from central Michigan’s rich brine resources. In the years that followed, this and other processes developed by Dow and the company he founded led to an increasing stream of chemicals from brines. The commercial…Read More
Steroid chemists often refer to the 1930s as the Decade of the Sex Hormones, when the molecular structures of certain sex hormones were determined and first introduced to medical practice as drugs. Russell Marker achieved the first practical synthesis of the pregnancy hormone, progesterone, by…Read More
In brilliant collaboration, Carl and Gerty Cori studied how the body metabolizes glucose and advanced the understanding of how the body produces and stores energy. Their findings were particularly useful in the development of treatments for diabetes. In 1947 the Coris shared a Nobel Prize for…Read More
It is difficult to recall a time when doctors and patients had trouble tracking the presence of glucose and other substances in urine and blood. Lack of sufficient measurement tools made it difficult to manage a host of diseases, including diabetes as well as other metabolic diseases and kidney…Read More
The introduction of penicillin in the 1940s, which began the era of antibiotics, has been recognized as one of the greatest advances in therapeutic medicine. The discovery of penicillin and the initial recognition of its therapeutic potential occurred in the United Kingdom, but, due to World War…Read More
Monroe Wall, Mansukh Wani and colleagues at the Natural Products Laboratory of the Research Triangle Institute discovered and elucidated the structure Taxol®and camptothecin, two life-saving compounds for the treatment of cancer. These natural products kill cancer cells via unique mechanisms of…Read More
Founded in 1957, Raychem Corporation was the first company to successfully apply the new science of radiation chemistry to commercial use. This accomplishment led to the creation of tough new materials and high-performance products such as irradiated polyethylene insulated wire and heat-…Read More
Bread is considered a basic foodstuff; eaten down through the ages, it continues to be a staple of the modern diet. The development of baking powder made baking easier, quicker and more reliable for bakers in the mid-19th century. Eben Horsford’s unique formula was an important innovation and…Read More
When Arnold Beckman, a professor of analytical chemistry at the California Institute of Technology, was asked to devise a way to measure acidity in citrus fruit, the resulting “acidometer” revolutionized chemical instrumentation. The innovative features of the pH meter, including its use of…Read More
Around 1907, Belgian-born chemist Leo Hendrik Baekeland took two ordinary chemicals, phenol and formaldehyde, mixed them in a sealed autoclave, and subjected them to heat and pressure.
The sticky, amber-colored resin he produced in his Yonkers laboratory was the first plastic ever to be…Read More
Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier studied at the Académie des Sciences de l'Institut de France (then "Collège Mazarin") from 1754 to 1761. He was elected to the Royal Academy of Sciences in 1768, where he presented his important studies on oxygen in chemistry. These began with a "pli cacheté" of Nov. 2…Read More
The William H. Chandler Chemistry Laboratory was conceived and planned by William Henry Chandler (1841-1906), professor, chairman, librarian, and acting president of Lehigh University. Designed by Philadelphia architect Addison Hutton and erected between 1884 and 1885 at a cost of $200,000, the…Read More
In early September 1985, a team of scientists discovered a previously unknown pure carbon molecule, C60, which they dubbed buckminsterfullerene. The name was chosen because the geodesic domes of Buckminster Fuller provided a clue that the molecule’s atoms might be arranged in the form of a…Read More
In 1961, in the National Institutes of Health Headquarters (Bethesda, MD), Marshall Nirenberg and Heinrich Matthaei discovered the key to breaking the genetic code when they conducted an experiment using a synthetic RNA chain of multiple units of uracil to instruct a chain of amino acids to add…Read More
Gilman Hall, built in 1916-1917, accommodated a growing College of Chemistry by providing expanded research and teaching facilities for faculty and students specializing in physical, inorganic and nuclear chemistry. Work performed at Gilman Hall helped advance the fields of chemical…Read More
Havemeyer Hall was built between 1896 and 1898 under the leadership of Charles Frederick Chandler. It provided research and teaching facilities for faculty and students specializing in industrial, inorganic, organic, physical, and biological chemistry. Pioneering research done here led to the…Read More