Top world chemists meeting on Oahu
11,000 researchers hail from 70 nations
The president of the American Chemical Society admits he is "kind of rah-rah" about advances in chemistry and its contributions to a better quality of life.
"The road to better health, better and more energy sources and better material all runs through chemistry," William Carroll Jr. said in an interview.
"One of the biggest changes in 30 years in chemistry is our ability to look at smaller and smaller samples and analyze them more and more precisely," he said. "This has been a tremendous boon to both nanotechnology and molecular biological sciences."
Carroll, of Dallas, is in Honolulu for the 2005 International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin Societies (Pacifichem), which opened last week and continues through tomorrow.
More than 11,000 scientists from 70 countries are presenting research papers in meetings scattered across eight Waikiki hotels.
Highlighting the opening ceremony at the Sheraton Waikiki was a lecture by Sumio Iijima, a distinguished Japanese scientist known for his discovery of carbon nanotubes in 1991.
A nanotube is a tube-shaped material of carbon with a diameter measuring about one-billionth of a meter, or one ten-thousandth of the thickness of human hair.
Six major chemical societies in the United States, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Australia and Japan are sponsoring the Honolulu conference, and 11 chemical societies in Pacific Basin countries are participating.
Carroll said the most interesting research areas are those where chemistry meets other disciplines, particularly biology and material sciences. Extensive papers are being presented in those areas, he said.
"There are great papers on basic chemistry as well," he said, with development of "the kind of tools that let us attack these multidisciplinary questions."
He said molecular biology involving chemistry of biological interactions is becoming better defined, "where we understand how our genes give rise to proteins, how proteins react and how they impact the way we live our lives.
"It's all chemistry," he said. "The fun part is it's in a biological context."
Carroll said the developments are leading to greater understanding of diseases and better and more efficient use of energy and products made from material with better properties than those available today.
Carroll, who works for Occidental Chemical Corp., said in the past 1 1/2 to two years, he has visited about 50 high schools, talking to students.
"We present them with grand challenges that we have, whether it's energy or disease, and they intuitively know these are problems that have to get solved," he said.