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    As a creator of Cold War catchphrases, President Dwight Eisenhower ranks high. His presidency gave us “Atoms for Peace,” “massive retaliation,” and the most famous of all, the “military-industrial complex.” This last was a parting shot in his farewell address to the nation. He could not believe what the United States had become. Instead of building strong industries that could be mobilized for war, as was the case before World War II, the United States had built a permanent peacetime armaments industry. Even more surprising, it was dominated by the “scientific-technological elite”—another of Ike’s catchphrases—an ill-defined group that had gained an alarming amount of influence in military, business, and political circles. 


    In 1983, President Ronald Reagan designated February 11th as National Inventors’ Day in honor of Thomas Edison’s birthday as well as in recognition of the work of inventors around the world. What better way to celebrate than sharing a photo of Thomas Edison holding a battery on his knee and looking at it very lovingly? 

    This image is from the cover of a pamphlet titled The Edison Storage Battery. It is in the Papers of Walter O. Snelling in our archives.

    Republican President Ronald Reagan designated Edison’s birthday to honor inventors, and Republican Senator Charles McC. Mathias Jr. from Maryland sponsored the bill that became Public Law No: 97-198.


    Need a cool indoor project to pass a hot summer day? May we suggest making your own poodle out of Dow Handi-Wrap, the plastic wrap sure to keep your sandwiches fresh and your poodles perfectly groomed.

    Photo credit: Dow Chemical Historical Image Collection, CHF Archives.

    Just don’t try to wrap the cat in it.

    What do fairies have to do with chemistry?

    In the spring 2016 issue of Distillations magazine, Sarah Reisert reviews Melanie Keene’s Science in Wonderland: The Scientific Fairy Tales of Victorian Britain. Sarah writes,

    Children’s literature of this time, including books on science, was filled with mythological creatures. The inclusion of fantasy in science books was more than a ploy to get kids’ attention: it was a legitimate attempt to combine education and entertainment. “Fairies and imps, dragons and demons, giants and gnomes, appeared throughout these texts as framing devices, as storytellers, as starring characters, as illustrations, as the invisible forces of nature,” writes historian of science Melanie Keene in her new book, Science in Wonderland.

    Read more here.

    In this month’s episode of Distillations, our producer Mariel Carr explores the alternative – or rogue – taxidermy scene in Philadelphia. Because taxidermy’s back. This time, with glitter.


    Astrophysicist Marcelo Gleiser on the simple beauty of the unexpected.

    (via explore-blog)

    Former CHF President explains the science of a fireworks display:

    It starts and ends with chemistry, with a little physics thrown in the middle to provide interdisciplinarity. The chemistry part is simple oxidation/reduction (redox) reactions that manage to involve a huge range of members of the periodic table. First, a fuel is burned (oxidized), usually the elements of gun powder, carbon and sulfur. To make it hotter, burn some aluminum, magnesium, and titanium. Oxygen is provided by oxidizing agents like nitrates, chlorates, and perchlorates. The whole mess of explosives is held together by various binders, generally starches and rubbers.

    Source: CHF website

    Image: @compoundchem

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