Whatever happened to…? Go ahead. Fill in the blanks with one of the highly publicized scientific advances of the past. It’s a question that can puzzle and perplex almost everyone who follows science news, as major discoveries get headlines and are then forgotten.
Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society (ACS), provides answers for a group of scientific advances in the cover story in its current edition. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society.
A decade ago, in its annual Chemical Highlights feature, now called Chemical Year In Review, C&EN looked at some of 2001’s key research advances in chemistry and the multiple fields of science that involve chemistry. C&EN reporters have revisited several of those highlighted discoveries to see what became of them. The topics range from self-healing plastics (materials embedded with tiny capsules that rupture and release a healing agent that repairs cracks) to a new genre of electronic devices built with tubes of carbon so small that 10,000 would fit across the width of a human hair.