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:
Instant mashed potatoes are commonplace on grocery shelves and have found wide use institutionally and in domestic and international food aid programs. The most successful form of instant mashed potatoes resulted from the flake process developed in the 1950s and 1960s at the Eastern Regional Research Center, a United States Department of Agriculture facility outside of Philadelphia. The process for reconstituting instant mashed potatoes devised at this facility utilized dehydration technology.
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?