Thursday, December 18, 2014

American Chemical Society Meets in Philadelphia

What can chemistry do to help doctors detect cancer? To exonerate the wrongly convicted? And clarify the causes of climate change?
These are some of the issues that will be addressed this week as 14,000 scientists descend on the Convention Center for a meeting of the American Chemical Society. Though the theme is "Materials for Medicine and Health," more than 8,000 planned sessions will range into nutrition, brain science, biodegradable plastics, solar cells, and forensics.

American Chemical Society Meets in Philadelphia

This preview story ran in Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer. I wish I had been able to see Jacqueline Barton's talk on DNA wires but I had other obligations. I’m excited about some of the Monday sessions:

What can chemistry do to help doctors detect cancer? To exonerate the wrongly convicted? And clarify the causes of climate change?


These are some of the issues that will be addressed this week as 14,000 scientists descend on the Convention Center for a meeting of the American Chemical Society. Though the theme is "Materials for Medicine and Health," more than 8,000 planned sessions will range into nutrition, brain science, biodegradable plastics, solar cells, and forensics.


The Washington-based ACS, which boasts of being the world's largest scientific society, holds two meetings a year in various cities. This one starts Sunday and runs through Wednesday.
On Sunday, 2012 National Medal of Science winner Jacqueline Barton of Caltech will present the latest on the emerging science of "DNA wires" - a term describing the discovery that DNA can conduct electricity like a wire, sending signals around cells.

Changes in this wirelike behavior promise novel ways to detect DNA damage and diagnose cancer and other diseases.

A session Monday will delve into ways that chemistry figures into the Innocence Project, which was established to help free the wrongly convicted. Among the panelists will be Innocence Project cofounder Barry Scheck, FBI Crime Lab whistle-blower Fred Whitehurst, and two people who were wrongly imprisoned and freed through the Innocence Project's work.
That session is part of a series of special events sponsored by ACS president Bassam Shakhashiri and aimed at addressing social problems.

Also Monday, another of the president's symposia features Mario Molina, a chemist who shared the 1995 Nobel Prize with Sherwood Rowland for connecting refrigerants and aerosol propellant chemicals to the loss of atmospheric ozone. Molina's talk will address the evidence that human activity is influencing the global climate.

Read more here.

About this blog
Faye Flam - writer
In pursuit of her stories, writer Faye Flam has weathered storms in Greenland, gotten frost nip at the South Pole, and floated weightless aboard NASA’s zero-g plane. She has a degree in geophysics from the California Institute of Technology and started her writing career with the Economist. She later took on the particle physics and cosmology beat at Science Magazine before coming to the Inquirer in 1995. Her previous science column, “Carnal Knowledge,” ran from 2005 to 2008. Her new column and blog, Planet of the Apes, explores the topic of evolution and runs here and in the Inquirer’s health section each Monday. Email Faye at fflam@phillynews.com. Reach Planet of the at fflam@phillynews.com.

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