Archive Page 2

The Taxi Chronicles

Filed by Susan Ainsworth

If you haven’t attended an ACS national meeting lately, you don’t know what you are missing. I know that I didn’t.

It’s been a while since I attended an ACS meeting. In May, I returned to the C&EN staff after an 11-year stint as a mom to my 15-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter (and as a freelancer for the magazine). I had been a reporter in the C&EN business group from 1989 until 1997, first as an associate editor and later as head of the Houston bureau. And I remember covering ACS national meetings as an editor for Chemical Week in the 1980s.

In my new job as senior editor for C&EN’s ACS News & Special Features group from Dallas, I have anticipated this meeting with great enthusiasm. (And okay, it had a little bit to do with going from a sweltering 98o to a blissful 70o, I’ll admit.) It’s that verve that has kept me plodding away through some logistical hurdles.

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Yin And Yang

Filed by Linda Wang

One of my favorite parts about the national meeting is the abundance of good food at every reception, luncheon, and special event. The downside to all this is that I’m getting really fat.

I’m finding that for all good things, there’s also a dark side. I decided to find out whether other meeting-goers have experienced this phenomenon.

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Science Happy Hour

Filed by Celia Arnaudposter-edit.jpg

With photos of Frank Sinatra adorning its walls, Lucky’s Lounge in South Boston is better known as a jazz spot. Monday night, though, Lucky’s was the venue for a science café hosted by the ACS Department of Local Sections & Community Activities and the public television show “NOVA scienceNOW,” produced by WGBH.

For those of you unfamiliar with science cafés, these informal gatherings are meant to stimulate discussion about a topic of current scientific interest between scientists and the general public. The event poster, with its “beer + science = good conversation,” sums up the casual atmosphere cultivated at these cafés. They start with a short presentation—no slides and hopefully in plain English. Then the questions, discussion, and even debate begin.

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In Search Of Comfortable Shoes

Filed by Linda Wang

I thought I had brought my most comfortable pair of dress shoes to Boston, but they’ve in fact turned into my worst enemy. My size 7 ½ black flats have now stretched to a size 12 to accommodate my poor swollen feet.


One of the things you learn real fast at these national meetings is that, no matter what they tell you, comfort should be your number one priority. After all, it’s pretty distracting listening to a talk when all you can think about are your feet.

To find out which shoes offer the best combination of style and comfort, I decided to consult my fellow meeting-goers.

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Roald Hoffmann: Chemist And Poet

Filed by Ivan Amatoimg_0952a.jpg

They began showing up one by one almost an hour before the premier literary event at the Boston meeting of ACS. By the time Roald Hoffmann had begun reading his first poem at 11 AM in the cavernous Boston Convention & Exposition Center, the sizable booth of the ACS Publications Division—the venue for the event—had transformed into a standing-room-only poetry event. In the din and vastness of the exposition hall, Hoffmann and his rapt audience managed to encase themselves, for a short time, in what seemed like a small bistro in what might have been the artsy part of a city. A podcast of Roald Hoffmann’s poetry reading can be found here.

Known mostly for his lifelong work in theoretical chemistry for which he was awarded, among other honors, the 1981 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (with Kenichi Fukui) and the Priestley Medal in 1990, Hoffmann has also been making his way in the literary world. Over the years, he has written books, plays, and poems. (For a full portfolio and biography, go to

For more that 40 years, his professional home has been Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y., where he is a professor of chemistry and, since 1996, the Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Human Letters. To acknowledge his lifelong devotion and record of achievement in the chemical world and beyond, Hoffmann is also being honored at the meeting during an all-afternoon presidential session on Tuesday titled “Celebrating a Craftsman of the Art of Understanding: Roald Hoffmann at 70.”

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Hitting The Boston Streets

Filed by Celia Arnaud

This week, the ACS meeting includes thematic programming on health and wellness. The program includes a symposium on the genomics of obesity, and many ACS divisions have organized complementary symposia in their own programs. Did ACS plot to make its thematic programming part of an integrated experience for all attendees? I had plenty of time to ponder this question this morning as I hoofed the 2.4 miles from my hotel in Back Bay to the convention center in South Boston. (View a map of hotel locations on the Boston National Meeting website.)

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Chemistry Is Everywhere

save_waste_fats.jpgFiled by Ivan Amato

When I go to a national meeting of the American Chemical Society, I like to hunt around for signs of chemistry’s overt and unseen roles that would be apparent in the host city anyway, even if thousands of chemists were not converging on the city for a celebration of all things chemical.

I found a few such signs on Saturday when I ventured into the city’s wonderful central public library on Boylston Street. Up and running were several fantastic exhibits, including one on miniature books—some smaller than a penny—and one on Alexandre Vattemare, a Frenchman touted as the most famous ventriloquist of the 19th century and whose gift of 50 books in 1841 to the people of Boston was an influential act in the creation of the library.

As I wandered through the exhibit titled “United We Will Win: World War II Posters of Victory,” I found a few signs of chemistry. Amidst a frying pan with dripping fat and an ominous salvo of bombs, one 1943 poster commanded Americans to “Save waste fats for explosives—take them to your meat dealer.”

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