Browsing: Chemistry

A catchphrase from a popular reality show goes: “One day you’re in. And the next day, you’re out.” For the purposes of the show, the host is referencing fashion. But the same could be said about science. With each new discovery or advance, an old theory or idea often becomes obsolete … or at least less important. We here in the NIST public affairs office thought it might be fun to list some of the NIST-relevant scientific ideas that we think are on their way in and out in 2017. While the items on the list below may not be as monumental as the discoveries that led to this year’s Nobel Prizes, MacArthur Foundation “genius” grants or Breakthrough Prizes, we…

I think curiosity is at the root of all scientific careers. That, and insecurity. In my formative years, I felt compelled to assign a rational explanation to everything. I didn’t know it then, but I was practicing to be a scientist—and having lots of fun. I remember entertaining numerous misconceptions. Looking back, I think in many cases the misconceptions made a better story than the truth. For instance, as a child, I thought that when you dropped a letter into the mailbox on the corner, it was delivered to the correct address through one of a multitude of underground channels connecting all mailboxes to all residences. Then I grew up a little. It’s definitely more fun making things up, but…

I’m a graphic designer, or, in the language of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, a “Visual Information Specialist.” For the past 18 years I’ve been working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a federal laboratory where some of the best and brightest scientists, engineers, IT specialists, and mathematicians come together to do basic research, develop standards, create new methods of measurement, and win the occasional Nobel prize. In addition to designing exhibits, infographics, and brochures, one of my regular tasks has been to evaluate and process thousands of images created by NIST researchers to accompany the news articles my colleagues in the Public Affairs Office write. These images, which include micrographs made with scanning electron microscopes,…

I’m from a town called Aguadilla on the northwest coast of Puerto Rico—about a 2.5-hour drive from San Juan. My parents grew up in poverty. My mom was one of nine siblings and education was not a priority at the time. She had big dreams of studying, getting a degree, and improving herself, but she was faced with too many obstacles and could not fulfill her dreams. My dad and his three siblings grew up deep in the mountainous region and worked the land as traditional “jíbaros.” My dad had the opportunity to study agronomy in college, but he was drafted for the Vietnam War and had to pause his education. They both understood the value of a good education…

I was always fascinated with science. However, I steered away from pursuing science beyond high school because there was too much math involved (and “MATH,” a four-letter word if ever I saw one, and I never really got along). As a result, much of my teaching experience has centered around things that came more naturally to me. In fact, though this will be my 11th year teaching, it is only my third year teaching science. Throughout my career as an educator, I have had the joy of taking care of a wide variety of “classroom animals,” including a Chinese water dragon, a soft-shell turtle, a kingsnake, chickens, a tarantula, and even a fresh-water eel. This year, as a sixth-grade science…