Field of Science

Shedding some light on chemistry: Mole Day and the Year of Light

[If you want to participate in some science about science blogs, see the bottom of this post!]

It's October and there is lots of science to celebrate.  Chemists in the US and elsewhere are celebrating Mole Day on Friday (October 23 at 6:02 pm) to honor Avogadro's number (6.02 x 1023 items are in a mole -- it's the chemist's version of a dozen).  It's also the International Year of Light, and while you might think that light is the purview of physicists, it's an element of chemistry as well.  I suggested in a recent essay that one might want to celebrate the year of light on the 10th October at 3 in the afternoon (3 x 1010  is the speed of light in cm/sec)

I've written two pieces on the relationship between chemistry and light for the celebration.  The first for Nature Chemistry, The Enlightenment of Chemistry, looks at the two-way relationship between chemistry and light.  Light is  not just an energy source for doing chemistry, but the production of light in various ways has pushed chemistry forward.  The full text is here.

The second, for the UN's Year of Light blog celebrates the October 27th anniversary of Bunsen's and Kirchhoff's publication on the spectroscope and atomic emission spectra — and the role the spectroscope played in not only filling out the periodic table, but in confirming the periodicity of the table.
"Hunting for new elements spectroscopically meant you didn’t actually need to have any of it in your lab or even on your planet, as long as you could observe the light from a burning sample. In 1868 several chemists and astronomers independently observed a faint line in the spectrum of the sun, and assigned it to a new element, helium, which as far as they knew did not exist on earth. It would take nearly 30 years for two Swedish chemists to confirm that it was present on earth — by matching the spectrum with that of a gas found in a uranium ore. (The helium to be found on earth comes from radioactive decay.)" — read the rest here.
Want to participate in some science to celebrate?

Help us do science! I’ve teamed up with researcher Paige Brown Jarreau to create a survey of the Culture of Chemistry's readers. By participating, you’ll be helping me improve the blog and contributing to SCIENCE on blog readership. You will also get science art from Paige's Photography for participating, as well as a chance to win a t-shirt, a $50 Amazon gift card and other perks!   It should only take 10-15 minutes to complete. You can find the survey here: