If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.


ACS News

Reactions: Changes at C&EN, carbon dioxide as a resource, and chemistry magic shows

March 25, 2023 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 10


Letters to the editor

All about C&EN

I have noticed how C&EN has been changing in recent years: for example, fewer science articles and less reader response. The Feb. 13, 2023, issue had no letters to the editor, no chemical reactions, and only one structure (ceramide, page 8). The role of C&EN has never been to “follow the literature,” but it used to regularly highlight outstanding, cutting-edge, novel, or especially interesting chemistry. Not anymore, and I miss it!

Howard Deutsch

Congratulations on the forthright explanation of the difficulties with C&EN (Feb. 20/27, 2023, page 2). I have been a reader for almost 70 years and have noticed a troubling trend in recent years that seems to correlate with the changes you have discussed.

I’ll state up front that I cannot wait each week to receive C&EN. I find it extremely instructive on worldwide technology, engineering, and business developments in the science I have enjoyed so much.

However, in recent years I have been perplexed by the tone and at times context of many issues. This has left me with the feeling that your coverage has been more of a declaration of social trends than technology developments and the people who do them.

Please bring us back to balanced coverage of scientific and engineering news important to our industry.

Alexander MacLachlan
Wilmington, Delaware

Thank you for providing us some information on what happened to the magazine. I have enjoyed C&EN for many years, and it is one of the best news/technical magazines anywhere.

I am sad that the fine personnel left but hope you can keep it going.

Also, I read the letter from Gordon W. Gribble (Feb. 20/27, 2023, page 3). I wish I could listen to his lectures—what a great method to learn organic chemistry.

I hope he writes a textbook.

William R. Tasker
Fort Mill, South Carolina

Re: Turning carbon dioxide into a valuable resource

In the late 1960s, Monsanto commercialized a breakthrough technology to make acetic acid. The process reacted methanol with carbon monoxide to make high-​purity acetic acid in high yield. The first production plant was built at the Monsanto site in Texas City, Texas. The plant generated synthesis gas (carbon monoxide and hydrogen) from methane and steam and made methanol using well-known technology. Then the methanol was reacted with more CO to make acetic acid using the new technology. But the reactions are unbalanced: CH4 + H2O yields CO + 3H2. What one needs is 2CO + 2H2 to make acetic acid. I don’t know how it happened, but some clever person(s) learned that a nearby refinery generated a high-purity stream of carbon dioxide that was just wasted. A short pipeline was built, and that CO2 became the CO (H2 + CO2 = CO + H2O) that balanced the reaction.

Louis E. DuPree Jr.
Magnolia, Texas

Is chemistry magic?

It’s great to see American Chemical Society sections doing outreach for National Chemistry Week (C&EN, Feb. 20/27, 2023, page 32). It would be even better if we didn’t do chemistry “magic” shows. Demonstrations are great—keep doing these—but don’t call them magic. We should not be giving kids the idea, even if it’s just “good fun,” that chemistry is magic. It’s not. We are scientists, not wizards or magicians. Let’s do better. Words matter.

Bob Gotwals
Durham, North Carolina


This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.