WASHINGTON, Jan. 1, 2011 — The American Chemical Society (ACS) today began a global, year-long observance of the International Year of Chemistry 2011 (IYC 2011) by launching an online calendar that serves as a virtual time machine, transporting the public back to some of the epic events and great intellects that shaped modern society through the magic of chemistry.
Called 365: Chemistry for Life, the calendar links almost 250 days of the year to events triumphal and trivial in chemistry, health, medicine, energy, the environment and related fields. They range from Jan. 1 — which in 1907 saw the debut of the database that has fostered unprecedented scientific discovery — to Dec. 31 and a scientific law about those New Year’s toasts with champagne. A mouse-click on the days in between revisits Joseph Priestley’s discovery of oxygen; the first successful treatment of diabetes with insulin; George Washington Carver’s discovery of hundreds of new uses for crops like peanuts; Marie Curie’s landmark research on radioactivity and much more. 365: Chemistry for Life certainly doesn’t neglect the fun and fanciful side of chemistry. The calendar highlights the debut of Silly Putty, for instance, the invention of instant mashed potatoes and the chemistry of hand warmers.
“This calendar is a wonderful way to spotlight chemistry’s contributions to everyday life,” said Nancy B. Jackson, Ph.D., who serves as ACS President during the IYC. Jackson is with the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico. “Chemistry plays a role in almost every other scientific discipline across the globe, quite literally from astronomy to zoology. All-too-often, those contributions and the ways chemistry improves everyday life are not readily apparent to the public. The IYC calendar brings chemistry’s contributions, products and personalities to the fore. It will make a perfect home page, especially for students and teachers seeking to gain more knowledge about this key science.”
And what about the other days in 2011? ACS is launching 365: Chemistry for Life with those days grayed out. In the spirit of engaging its audience, the Society will hold a contest during the first quarter of 2011 in which visitors to the site can suggest topics for grayed-out dates — or better topics for active dates. The contents of filled-in dates are mere suggestions and not necessarily the final word. Individuals whose topics are accepted for inclusion in the calendar will be eligible for a drawing with prizes that include an iPad, an iPod Touch and an iPod nano. Watch the 365: Chemistry for Life website for details of the competition.
The 63rd General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry, envisioning a worldwide celebration of the achievements of chemistry and its contributions to the well-being of humankind. Also being celebrated in 2011 is the centennial of the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Marie Curie for her work on radioactivity, and the 100th anniversary of the founding of the International Association of Chemical Societies.