Today’s Google doodle honors Percy Julian, and so does PBS:
pbsthisdayinhistory:

April 11, 1899: Chemist Percy Julian Is Born
On this day in 1899, chemist Percy Julian (today’s Google Doodle) was born. Julian held more than 100 chemical patents, wrote scores of papers on his work, and received dozens of awards and honorary degrees. The grandson of Alabama slaves, Percy Julian met with every possible barrier in a deeply segregated America. He was a man of genius, devotion, and determination. As a black man he was also an outsider, fighting to make a place for himself in a profession and country divided by bigotry—a man who would eventually find freedom in the laboratory. Watch NOVA's “Forgotten Genius,” the story of how African American Percy Julian defied the odds to become a famous chemist.
Photo: NOVA

Today’s Google doodle honors Percy Julian, and so does PBS:

pbsthisdayinhistory:

April 11, 1899: Chemist Percy Julian Is Born

On this day in 1899, chemist Percy Julian (today’s Google Doodle) was born. Julian held more than 100 chemical patents, wrote scores of papers on his work, and received dozens of awards and honorary degrees.

The grandson of Alabama slaves, Percy Julian met with every possible barrier in a deeply segregated America. He was a man of genius, devotion, and determination. As a black man he was also an outsider, fighting to make a place for himself in a profession and country divided by bigotry—a man who would eventually find freedom in the laboratory.

Watch NOVA's “Forgotten Genius,” the story of how African American Percy Julian defied the odds to become a famous chemist.

Photo: NOVA

(Source: video.pbs.org)

explainers-nysci:

That’s cold [x]

explainers-nysci:

That’s cold [x]

Don’t forget to give thanks for eugenol and isoeugenol today. http://bit.ly/IsFYtL

Don’t forget to give thanks for eugenol and isoeugenol today. http://bit.ly/IsFYtL

Sparking Curiosity

image

Glass vials, a row of chemicals, and an alcohol lamp. Perhaps nothing symbolized the excitement of science in the early to mid-20th century better than a chemistry set. The classic kits got kids tinkering, experimenting and thinking about science. In the process, they inspired a generation of inventors and scientists, some of whom became Nobel Prize-winners. But somewhere along the way, spurred by safety concerns and legal changes, chemistry sets faded in popularity.

A new competition, launched this week, aims to find the 21st century version of the classic chemistry set. A collaboration between the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Society for Science & the Public, the Science, Play and Research Kit competition (SPARK) challenges participants to generate a new set of experiences and activities that encourage imagination and interest in science, bringing the spirit of the classic chemistry set to today’s children.

Margaret Honey, NYSCI’s president and CEO, is an advisor to the competition, which will offer tangible ways to get more kids experimenting with science.

The competition’s top award is for the best science kit prototype with a prize of $50,000. Additional prizes ranging from $1,000 – $25,000 will be awarded for runners-up and idea submissions.

explainers-nysci:

In accompaniment to the interview video, the vivacious explainer Saijah Williams tells us a few things about the relatively new field of molecular gastronomy or “modern cooking”, her love for baking and where she sees herself with NYSCI in the future. 

MW: So can you explain molecular gastronomy to those of us who have never heard of it?

SW: Molecular gastronomy studies the physical aspects as well as the chemical aspects of ingredients during cooking. It also studies how the ingredients interact and affect each other under different temperatures.

MW: How did this interest start?

SW: I love food and I love science; [molecular gastronomy] is a combination of the two, so it’s perfect. It turns cooking into a form of scientific experimentation.

You know how we use liquid nitrogen in the Chem demo? Some molecular gastronomical meals use liquid nitrogen to prepare.

MW: That sounds like a science experiment! Do you need any special a degree or PhD. to prepare a molecular gastronomy meal [laughs]?

SW: Yeah there are courses at certain colleges for molecular gastronomy and also special culinary schools.There are recipes that one can follow also. They even sell kits [in bookstores] to get you started.

There is a show on Netflix, called “Quantum Kitchen” it’s all about molecular gastronomy. The chef [Marcel Vigneron] in it goes all out for his meals. He puts a lot of time and thoughts and uses all sorts of techniques to prepare his meals.

MW: A meal like that can’t come cheap. Speaking of expensive meals, I heard there are restaurants [such as Corton located in Tribeca] that use special molecular gastronomical techniques to prepare their meals. The waiting lists for the restaurants are unbelievably long.

SW: I would love to dine at one but they are so expensive and the waiting lists are for months.

MW: Do you cook a lot?

SW: I am more of a baker than a cook. I usually bake extravagant cakes for the holidays. Last year for Halloween, I baked a graveyard themed cake with cookies for tombstones and worms, the gummy type of course.

MW: So we can anticipate an extravagant cake this Halloween [laughs]?

SW:  Possibly. I haven’t baked in a while and Halloween, which is my favorite holiday, gives me the perfect opportunity to make a really great cake. I’m thinking of ideas right now, so we will see!

MW: You’ve been with the Hall for 2 years, now. So where do you see yourself in the future with the Hall? 

SW: I want to move up the Science Career Ladder, try to go as far as I can, and reach the highest rung.

-       Interviewed by Margaret Wang

-       Interview edited for clarification purposes