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December 18, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 49


Letters to the editor

Bird problem

Credit: iStockphoto
A bird with white and blue-gray feathers sits on a nest.
Credit: iStockphoto

In the Nov. 20 issue, herring gull is cited as one of the species that scientists are watching for possible environmental impacts (page 26). However, I have been a birder for over 45 years, and I knew immediately that the photo of the “herring gull” on the cover and in the accompanying article cannot be such. The bird is obviously (to a birder) an adult bird, and thus to be a herring gull would have a larger, thicker yellow bill with a bright red spot on the lower mandible. The bird in this photo, with a thin, small, greenish-colored bill lacking any clear marking (as well as several other factors), is more likely a black-legged kittiwake, a species also mentioned in the article.

R. Martin Smith
Madison, Wis.

Periodate chemistry

I read with interest the Oct. 2, 2017, article (page 6) about new studies of aqueous periodate equilibria which found no evidence for metaperiodate (IO4) in aqueous solution. Kinetics studies tell a different story. Two independent temperature-jump studies (J. Phys. Chem. 1964, DOI: 10.1021/j100794a057; Z. Naturforsch., B: J. Chem. Sci. 1977, DOI: 10.1515/znb-1977-0127) and a corroborating 17O NMR line-broadening study (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1965, DOI: 10.1021/ja01096a008) indicate the existence of a rapid meta-orthoperiodate hydration-dehydration equilibrium in acidic media.

The equilibrium and kinetics studies are not necessarily in conflict, however. The equilibrium study of Horváth and colleagues indicates that orthoperiodate predominates in aqueous solution over a wide range of pH values (Inorg. Chem. 2017, DOI: 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.7b01911). The equilibrium quotient for formation of metaperiodate is much smaller than had been generally accepted in previous kinetics studies. Metaperiodate, though present at low concentrations, insufficient to be unambiguously detected in equilibrium studies, can manifest its presence in aqueous solution. For example, the subtle role of this species is in accordance with ... [an] independent kinetics study reported on complex formation of an iron(III) hydroxo dimer with periodate ion (Dalton Trans. 2004, DOI: 10.1039/B313341A).

Kenneth Kustin
Chapel Hill, N.C.

Women in chemistry

Bibiana’s editorial in the Nov. 13 issue on the giants of chemistry (page 2) connected well with my current reading. My oldest daughter, upon graduating from college, was given this book by a classmate: “Nobel Prize Women in Science” (Carol Publishing Group, 1993) by Sharon Bertsch McGrayne. My daughter left the book with her old man when she moved on. Beginning with Marie Curie and followed by Lise Meitner, the book takes the reader through biographies of 11 additional Nobel Prize-winning women and their respective struggles to compete in the male-dominated scientific communities during much of the 20th century. The book aptly describes what each accomplished scientifically and how each overcame great gender discrimination obstacles. Eve Curie’s “Madame Curie” (Da Capo Press, 1937) is a great resource on the life of her famous mother. A paperback copy updated in 2001 is readily available. In 2012, I offered a lifelong learning course over four evenings on the life and accomplishments of Madame Curie at Michigan State University. This course was well attended.

Paul R. Loconto
Okemos, Mich.


The American Chemical Society’s 2016 IRS Form 990 is now available on the ACS website. To access the information, go to Please scroll toward the bottom of the page to access the 2016 form and related “Guide to Schedule J” for explanatory information regarding ACS executive compensation. If you have any access problems, please contact


Nov. 27, page 35: The ACS Comment in the C&EN print edition contained an incomplete headline. It should have read, “Friends in need: ACS’s role in disaster relief.”

Dec. 4, page 45: The ACS Com- ment incorrectly stated that the ACS Defined Contribution Retirement Plan was frozen in 2009. The ACS Defined Benefit Pension Plan was frozen that year.



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