During the 18th and 19th century, chemistry was the darling of the Enlightenment and the scientific community. Faraday’s lectures drew hundreds of attendees, and the inhalation of the latest discovery, laughing gas (nitrous oxide), was considered stylish after dinner entertainment. Out of such developments came the modern world, fully electrified, with a ready supply of general anaesthetic and fizzy water.
But what of chemistry today? Without the awe-inspiring, unimaginably big and small scales of physics or the “what will kill me?” relevance of biology, public interest in chemistry seems diminished. That which was innovative in the 19th century has so successfully segued into our existence, it has become mundane.
2011 is the International Year of Chemistry, a celebration of all things chemical, which hopes to go some way to recapture interest and remind people about the beauty, vibrancy and charisma of this most creative science.
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