Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Ology of the Month - Chemistry

There are so many different sides to chemistry and it is everywhere. After all, everything in the universe is made of chemical elements. You could say that if physics shows us how the universe works, then chemistry shows us what the universe is made from.

During May I want to cover as many aspects of chemistry as I can, be it organic or inorganic, natural or synthetic, though some topics will also be covered later in the year (pharmacology and medicine in August, biochemistry in November, and AIDS drugs in December).

There are fewer chemists in history who can be identified as lgbt than most of the other sciences. There’s certainly many more lgbt chemists out and proud today.  As with other sciences the largest organisation for lgbt chemists can be found in the USA. The main group is the Subdivision for Gay and Transgender Chemists and Allies at the American Chemical Society (ACS) (surely there’s a shorter, snappier name they could come up with?).

The website of the ACS has an interesting little feature which has inspired me to try something similar this month. Its called “Molecule of the Week”. The website features a different chemical molecule and gives all its properties and all you need to know about what is does.

My Molecules of the Weeks will tie in with members of the lgbt community. I’m not a chemist myself so won’t go into all the scientific explanations you see on the ACS website. Hopefully, I’ll come up with 5 molecules which I intend to feature over the weeks that fall during May, and they will include drugs, poisons and perfumes. They won’t all appear on a Monday (like this week) due to other posts needing to appear on specific Mondays this month.

May is also the month which the USA celebrates as Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Also referred to as APAM, this commemorative month had its origins quite some time ago, way back in the days of Jimmy Carter. In 1978 the US Congress passed a joint Congressional Resolution to commemorate Asia-Pacific heritage across the States during the first full week in May. There were two reasons why May was chosen. Firstly, May was the month in 1843 which saw the first Japanese immigrants arriving in America. Secondly, the trans-continental railway, on which many of the labourers were Chinese, was completed in May 1869.

The success of the first Asian-Pacific Heritage Week led to support in Congress for the expansion of the celebrations. Following the example of others, such as World Women’s History Month and Black History Month, Congress approved the idea of spreading the celebration of Asian-Pacific culture across the whole month. The first full Asian-Pacific Heritage Month was in May 1992. More recently the name has been expanded into the official title of Asia-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

It’s a pity it hasn’t officially spread to other countries yet. I’ll have a couple of posts devoted to Asia-Pacific heritage. It’s a pity the timing of the previous “On Track to the Outgames” devoted to the first Asia-Pacific Outgames didn’t make it into this month. There’ll also be a post dedicated to lgbt Asia-Pacific scientists.

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