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Science Communication

How Chemistry Changed The World

Decades of chemistry discoveries illustrated

September 9, 2013 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 91, ISSUE 36

Credit: Robin Braverman/C&EN
How chemistry changed the world.

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Dairene Uy (September 13, 2013 5:55 PM)
Chemistry has indeed changed the world a great deal, and for the better! However, I hope you do not make this poster public. For me, what stood out right away is the negativity associated with chemistry - environmental damage due to DDT, ozone hole, explosion in Bhopal killing thousands, mutagenic fire retardants in kids' clothing, endocrine-disrupting Bisphenol A,... Great ones that affect the ordinary person in positive ways are the discoveries of Teflon (which has so many other applications aside from cooking), nylon, Saran wrap,... what about catalysts in catalytic converters to clean up automotive exhaust to reduce air pollution, chemical processes that enable electronics and our digital world, synthetic materials for advanced sports performance, plastics that enable produce to last longer in the store, materials used to make child safety seats [just imagine a car seat made of steel and wood],... Also, a number of the discoveries are not really by chemists or strictly chemistry - for instance, Raman, Maiman, Cornell and Wieman were/are physicists and these are more "physics changing the world" rather than chemistry.
Rollin King (September 17, 2013 11:27 AM)
Ditto to the excellent comment by Dairene Uy who described precisely my own reaction to the poster. The overall message conveyed, given its negative and non-chemical emphases, is that chemistry has not contributed much at all to celebrate!
Mikel Oiarbide (October 23, 2013 4:53 AM)
How can I get a PDF version of it?
Thank you.

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