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Special Report

Chemistry for a New Era

The International Year of Chemistry commemorates the achievements that have made life better. Breakthroughs promise a greener and more productive future

  • October 10, 2011

The Elements Revealed: An Interactive Periodic Table

Whether gas, liquid or solid; radioactive or stable; reactive or inert; toxic or in your vitamin pill, the 118 building blocks each has its own chemically idiosyncratic characteristics--and certain commonalities. See what makes your favorite element unique on this interactive periodic table

June 18, 2013 — Davide Castelvecchi

I Was a Teenage Element Hoarder

Credit: IStockphoto I knew I wasn't like the other kids. Oh sure, I collected baseball cards and model airplanes, but not with the passion that I saved for my real obsession—collecting each and every element of the periodic table.This was just part of my chemical romance, which also involved (but was not limited to): watching phenolphthalein solution in test tubes change color, launching sodium carbonate/acetic acid (vinegar)–powered rockets, generating the sulfurous odor of rotten eggs and making a smoke bomb that accidentally detonated in the basement, and eventually graduating to electrolysis and various combustibles that fortunately resulted only in singed eyebrows, but no loss of digits or eyesight.Outside of explosives, however, lay the Holy Grail—a complete set of the fundamental building blocks of the universe.

October 11, 2011 — Michael J. Battaglia

Toxins All around Us

Exposure to the chemicals in everyday objects poses a hidden health threat

October 11, 2011 — Patricia Hunt

Chemical Controls

Congress needs to give federal agencies greater authority to test and regulate chemicals

April 1, 2010 — THE EDITORS

The Discovery of Quasicrystals: The 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Listen to the announcement of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, to Daniel Shechtman of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Then hear comments from the president of the American Chemical Society, Nancy Jackson, of Sandia National Laboratories

October 5, 2011 — Steve Mirsky

Chemistry Day at Scientific American Blog Network

This year is the International Year of Chemistry.This week, many chemists are gathered in Puerto Rico for the World Chemistry Congress.And here, at the Scientific American Blog Network, today is the Chemistry Day.

August 2, 2011 — Bora Zivkovic

The Poisoner's Handbook: The Sinister Side of Chemistry

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Deborah Blum talks about her new work, The Poisoner's Handbook, a look at how easy it used to be to kill someone with poison and the researchers who made poisoning much harder to get away with. Plus, we'll test your knowledge about some recent science in the news. Web sites related to this episode include blog.deborahblum.com

February 25, 2010 — Steve Mirsky

Chemistry: The Human Science

A tiny molecule harvested from a soil bacterium on Easter Island that evolved billions of years ago for no obvious purposes should have nothing to do with human beings.

August 2, 2011 — Ashutosh Jogalekar