john simpson

ACS in the News - October 6, 2010

Blog Post created by john simpson on Oct 6, 2010

By 10 a.m. this morning, comments by ACS President Joseph Francisco on the 2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistry had appeared in more than 125 news media outlets around the world with a potential audience of more than one billion people. More coverage will appear tomorrow in ACS in the News. Today’s coverage includes:


The Associated Press (New York, N.Y.: publishes content from 700 newspapers and 5,000 television and radio broadcasts), Reuters (New York, N.Y.: “viewed by more than 1 billion monthly”), ABC News (New York, N.Y.: 12.2 million monthly unique users), the Huffington Post (New York, N.Y.: 29.2 million monthly unique users), the Denver Post (Denver, Colo.: daily circulation 707,000), the Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, Calif.: daily circulation 616,606), the London Telegraph (London, England: daily circulation 673,010), Scientific American (New York, N.Y.: monthly circulation 676,000), the Houston Chronicle (Houston, Tex.: daily circulation 494,131), Salon (San Francisco, Calif.: 4.2 million monthly unique users.), the San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, Calif.: daily circulation 241,330), NewsMax (West Palm Beach, Fla.: 4.6 million monthly unique users) and AOL News (New York, N.Y.: 2.8 million monthly unique users).


An American and two Japanese scientists won the 2010 Nobel Prize in chemistry on Wednesday for developing chemical methods widely used to make potential cancer drugs and other medicines, as well as slimmed-down computer screens. Richard Heck, Ei-ichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki were honored for their development four decades ago of one of the most sophisticated tools available to chemists today, called palladium-catalyzed cross couplings. It lets chemists join carbon atoms together, a key step in the process of building complex molecules. Their methods are now used worldwide in commercial production of pharmaceuticals and molecules used to make electronics, the Royal  Swedish Academy of Sciences said… The approach developed by the winners is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry, in research labs and in commercial production of substances like plastics, said Joseph Francisco, president of the American Chemical Society and a colleague of Negishi's in Purdue's chemistry department. "It's truly quite fundamental work," he said. By using the metal palladium as a catalyst to make carbon atoms bond to each other, the approach makes those bonds happen "very easily, very cleanly," he said. It requires fewer steps than previous methods and avoids having to clean up unwanted byproducts, he said.


Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia,  Pa.: daily circulation 288,298)

“Waste food? Waste energy”

October 5, 2010

Origin: Office of Public Affairs (OPA) press release


There are a lot of reasons not to waste food, beginning with the food itself. But now, scientists have calculated that a way the nation could immediately save 350 million barrels of oil a year is to stop wasting food. We could do it "without spending a penny or putting a ding in the quality of life," according to the American Chemical Society. The study, published in the society's semi-monthly journal, Environmental Science & Technology, showed that it takes the equivalent of about 1.4 billion barrels of oil to "produce, package, prepare, preserve and distribute a year’s worth of food in the United States." This amounts to 6 to 15 percent of energy consumption. Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture estimates that about 27 percent of all food is wasted. The most-wasted food items -- racking up about 30 percent wasted -- are dairy products, grains, fats/oils, eggs, sugar and other sweeteners, according to the study.


R&D Magazine (Rockaway, N.J.: monthly circulation 80,000)

“Building blocks of nanotechnology to be named National Historic Chemical Landmark”

October 5, 2010

Origin: OPA press release


The American Chemical Society (ACS) will honor the discovery of fullerenes, the scientific achievement that gave birth to nanotechnology, as a National Historic Chemical Landmark in a ceremony to be held at Rice University in Houston, Texas, on Oct. 11. Fullerenes are commonly called buckyballs, and they form the basis of nanotechnology, the field of engineering extremely small structures and devices. Nanotechnology has led to enormous research and product development opportunities in fields as diverse as antibiotics, superconductors and optics. "When Nobel Laureates Robert Curl, Harry Kroto, and Richard Smalley discovered buckyballs - a previously unknown molecular form of carbon - they changed the future of science," said ACS president Joseph S. Francisco, Ph.D. "We are proud to recognize these scientists. Their work expands our knowledge of pure science and it has created many practical applications."


MSNBC (New York, N.Y.: 39.9 million monthly unique users)

“Super yarn in works for space suits, bulletproof vests”

October 5, 2010


Super-strong, highly conductive yarns made from extraordinarily thin carbon tubes could one day find use in spacesuits, bulletproof vests and radiation suits, researchers now suggest. Carbon nanotubes are hollow pipes just nanometers or billionths of a meter in diameter — dozens to hundreds of times thinner than a wavelength of visible light. They can possess a range of extraordinary physical and electrical properties, such as being roughly 100 times stronger than steel at one-sixth the weight. Now scientists in China reveal they have made composite yarns from carbon nanotubes and plastic that are both very strong and electrically conductive. The researchers first wove pure carbon nanotube yarns as free of physical defects as possible, to ensure it had good electrical conductivity. They next impregnated a strengthening plastic into the empty spaces inside this yarn, using a solvent that did not leave any leftovers behind that would detract from the yarn's electrical properties. The scientists detailed their findings online September 10 in the journal ACS Nano.


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, Wisc.: daily circulation 217,755)

“Supercomputer simulations help unravel the origins of life”

October 5, 2010


A research team at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory is using supercomputer simulations to examine an organic chemical reaction that may have led ribonucleic acids evolve into early life forms. "Computer simulations can provide insight into biological systemcs that you can't get any other way," said Jeremy Smith, who directs Oak Ridge's Center for Molecular Biophysics. "Since these structures are changing so much, the dynamic aspects are difficult to understand, but simulation is a good way of doing it." Researchers focused on types of RNA called ribozymes which can store genetic information and catalyze chemical reactions, both of which are necessary for the formation of life. The study appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. (Evergreen, Va.: 1.3 million monthly unique users)

“Ozone damage of molecules in the lungs”

October 5, 2010


Lungs are lined with a mixture of molecules to ensure that they function well. For example, some of these help with the removal of inhaled particles. Retention of a moist film at the surface is also crucial. Recent work published in Langmuir provides important ideas as to how some of these molecules are affected by ozone that can arise as a pollutant in the atmosphere and is known to be a severe pulmonary irritant. The new study has focussed on phospholipids that are major components in both walls of biological cells and the fluid that covers the surface of the lungs. Simple measurements of layers of these molecules spread at a water surface suggested that a few ppm (parts per million) of ozone in oxygen can cause rapid degradation of a certain type of phospholipid followed, unexpectedly, by much slower changes over hours that arise from loss of the material from the surface.


Australian Food News (Victoria, Australia)

“GM soy linked to birth defects, cancer: new study”

October 6, 2010


Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup used on genetically manipulated (GM) Roundup Ready crops is linked to human cell death, birth defects, cancer and miscarriages, says a report released at the European Parliament by an international group of scientists. The report comes at a crucial time for Australia, where a popular infant soy formula has tested positive to unlabelled GM soy and corn, and Roundup Ready canola and cotton are grown. The report, “GM Soy: Sustainable? Responsible?”, highlights new research by Argentine government scientist Professor Andrés Carrasco and an international coalition of scientists. They found serious health impacts from Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, other chemicals in the formulated herbicide and its breakdown products. The report also provides a global overview of scientific papers and other documents on the impacts of GM soy production. The new research is published in the American Chemical Society journal ‘Chemical Research in Toxicology’.


… From the Blogs


Genetics Times

“Reducing gene-damaging impurities in medicines”

October 5, 2010

Origin: OPA PressPac


Drug manufacturers have been adjusting to strict new government standards that limit the amount of potentially harmful impurities in medicine, according to the cover story of the current issue of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), ACS' weekly newsmagazine. The impurities are "genotoxic," capable of damaging the DNA in genes. Although drug companies are complying with the guidelines, some regard the limits as too strict, the article notes.


NC State News Center

“Anastas believes science, technology offer ‘green’ solutions”

October 5, 2010


Today, most people have biochemical substances in their systems that weren’t even known before 1945, Dr. Paul Anastas of the Environmental Protection Agency told an audience at N.C. State University during the fifth Borlaug Lecture held Oct. 4. Known as the “Father of Green Chemistry,” Anastas told the audience that innovation is required to help society reduce its dependence on products and processes that rely on toxic substances. Anastas, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assistant administrator for the Office of Research and Development, is known for his groundbreaking research on the design, manufacture and use of minimally toxic, environmentally friendly chemicals. Prior to joining the EPA, he was on the faculty of Yale University, served as founding director of the Green Chemistry Institute headquartered at the American Chemical Society and worked in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.