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2011 Proclaimed as the International Year of Chemistry
January 4, 2011

The American Chemical Society (ACS) recently began a global, year-long observance of the International Year of Chemistry (IYC) by launching an online calendar that serves as a virtual time machine, transporting the public back to some of the epic events and great intellects that shaped modern society through the magic of chemistry.

Called IYC-365, the calendar links almost 250 days of the year to events triumphal and trivial in chemistry, health, medicine, energy, the environment and related fields. They range from Jan. 1st — which in 1907 saw the debut of the database that has fostered unprecedented scientific discovery — to Dec. 31st and a scientific law about those New Year’s toasts with champagne. A mouse-click on the days in between revisits Joseph Priestley’s discovery of oxygen; the first successful treatment of diabetes with insulin; George Washington Carver’s discovery of hundreds of new uses for crops like peanuts; Marie Curie’s landmark research on radioactivity and much more. IYC-365 certainly doesn’t neglect the fun and fanciful side of chemistry. The calendar highlights the debut of Silly Putty, for instance, the invention of instant mashed potatoes and the chemistry of hand warmers.

And what about the other days in 2011? ACS is launching IYC-365 with those days grayed out. In the spirit of engaging its audience, the Society will hold a contest during the first quarter of 2011 in which visitors to the site can suggest topics for grayed-out dates — or better topics for active dates. The contents of filled-in dates are mere suggestions and not necessarily the final word. Individuals whose topics are accepted for inclusion in the calendar will be eligible for a drawing with prizes that include an iPad, an iPod Touch and an iPod nano. Watch the IYC-365 website for details of the competition.

The 63rd General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry, envisioning a worldwide celebration of the achievements of chemistry and its contributions to the well-being of humankind.

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