What were the most notable advances in the chemical world in 2012? Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society — the world’s largest scientific society — considers this question in a package of cover stories on the year past in chemistry. It also provides a reality check on discoveries that seemed promising a decade ago.
In “Research Year in Review,” which focuses on 11 key developments, C&EN cites several advances in integrating man and machine in efforts to combine electronics with living tissue, developments that the story says were foretold in fictional cyborgs and characters, such as Data — the humanlike android on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Among the magazine’s other picks for key 2012 advances: an easier way to make the mainstay antimalarial compound artemisinin, new laser tools for chemical analysis, designing proteins from scratch and innovative membrane technology that unmixes oil and water.
A second story in the package examines the year past for the chemical industry, including many setbacks for companies, especially in in Europe, and big positive developments for the U.S. brought by shale gas. Another story considers government and policy topics, including congressional activity in tackling key science issues, such as climate change, energy policy and attempts to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act. The cover package concludes with a retrospective on what research discoveries from 2002 are making a big impact today, and which have lost some luster.