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A Layperson's View of Future Technology and Society

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Future Technology

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The Future of Chemistry

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Chemistry for the Future

As chemists, biologists, physicists, and other scientists continue to unveil nature's secrets, a flood of facts accumulates with stunning momentum. Each answer is a new beginning— material for new experiments. Many researchers assert that there's never been a more exciting time to be a scientist. After much effort was spent in the last century finding individual puzzle pieces, scientists can now revel in the process of fitting the pieces together.

Not that everything's been figured out— not by a long shot. The science of today beckons researchers to think big—to integrate singular items, and even single pathways—into the grander scheme of what it is that makes entire organisms tick with such precision.

Perhaps ironically, as science grows larger in scope and broader in focus, some of the most promising tools to synthesize the hows, whats, and wheres of human biology are exceedingly tiny. Micromachines, tiny biosensors, and miniature molecular reaction vessels will undoubtedly be standard items in a chemist's toolbox in 10 or 20 years.

Unraveling—and making sense of—the genetic instructions that spell life for organisms as diverse as flies, plants, worms, and people has sparked a most exciting revolution. Every minute of every day, scientists all over the world work feverishly, weaving a compelling tale of the chemistry that underlies our health.

It's all very exciting, but the progress mandates still more work. Much more work! Among the questions still awaiting answers are these:

How do the 6-foot long stretches of DNA in every cell in our bodies know how to keep our biochemical factories running smoothly?

Who will find a way to outwit resistant bacteria?

When will someone figure out how to fight disease by manipulating the intricate sugar coatings on our cells?

Who will invent the tools that will revolutionize chemistry labs of the future?

What unexpected places hold treasure troves for new medicines?


Chemistry Articles, Blogs and Web Sites

All Links open in a new window. Bold = Recommended

Chemistry Articles
Title Source Date
Good vibes: A way to make better catalysts for meds, industry and materials Phys.Org 03/14
Scientists turn table salt into forbidden compounds that violate textbook rules Gizmag 01/14
When liquids behave like solids PhysOrg 12/13
Propylene found on Saturn's moon Titan PhysOrg 09/13
Century-old chemistry problem solved PhysOrg 09/13
Engineers make golden breakthrough to improve electronic devices PhysOrg 09/13
Chemistry team creates spontaneously forming supramolecular nanotube yarn PhysOrg 08/13
Breakthrough Research Shows Chemical Reaction in Real Time SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory 03/13
New space-age insulating material for homes, clothing and other everyday uses ACS 09/12
New molecular robot can be programmed to follow instructions ACS 03/11
First-ever real-time images of atomic bonding NSF 02/11
New polymer material that can repeatedly heal itself at room temperature Technology Review 01/11
New ’smart materials’ process promises to revolutionize manufacturing of products KurzweilAI.net 09/10
Recipes For Limb Renewal American Chemical Society 08/10
This Beer Knows Where You've Been AAAS 07/10
UCI researchers develop world’s first plastic antibodies University of California, Irvine 06/10
Communication through chemistry: 'Fuses' convey information for hours PhysOrg 06/10
Microscopic, chemically triggered robotic "hands" PhysOrg 01/09
Chemists engineer plants to produce new compounds PhysOrg 01/09
Top 10 brain NewScientist articles from 2008 New Scientist 12/08
Artificial diamonds - now available in extra large New Scientist 11/08

 

Chemistry Web Sites and Blogs
Title Description
Clever chemistry improves a new class of antibiotics Phys.org
3M Not much info, but cool Flash interface
ACS American Chemical Society
Chemistry About.com
Chemical Science News RSC Publishing
ChemWiki The Dynamic Chemistry E-textbook
General Chemistry Frostburg State University
International Year of Chemistry UNESCO
Periodic Table of Elements WebElements
The Electrochemical Society ECS

 

References
Article Sources
Chemistry for the Future Article from the National Institutes of Health
3D render of a molecular model courtesy from Wikimedia
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