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Category → ACS Meetings

“Snickers Is Almost A Perfect Food,” And Other Food-Texture Musings

shutterstock_2754827_crop2On the menu at last Tuesday’s food-texture talks at the ACS national meeting was a circus of flavors and sensual experiences (if only via PowerPoint): force deformation curves of fractured foam cell-walls for starters, an entrée of roasted-nut plot distributions, and a milky-smooth monologue on the pleasures and pains of food texture for dessert. (Regrettably, hotel catering didn’t contribute to the spread, as the session was over before lunchtime, and we all left salivating.)

After a couple detailed recounts of experiments dealing with cell-rupturing crispiness and nut-cracking crunchiness, Gail Vance Civille of Sensory Spectrum, Inc., wrapped everything up by bringing us back to the basics. Texture, she defined, is the sensory measure of structure or inner makeup of foods and other materials. We measure it with our skin and muscles, and we need people to evaluate it; machines can only help simulate textural experiences. We break down foods in three ways—mechanical, salivary, and thermal—and when foods don’t break down the way they’re supposed to, we reject them. For example, a waxy piece of chocolate that doesn’t melt on our tongues as it should is, well, waxy and unappetizing. Continue reading →

Scenes From The ACS Meeting

The ACS national meeting was held last week in Washington, D.C., and I attended numerous governance functions, award presentations, luncheons, dinners, and the like. Here are a few highlights from my week.

Several heads of foreign chemical societies attended the open meeting of the ACS Board of Directors on Sunday and were invited to make comments to the board. In his comments, Wolfram Koch, executive director of the German Chemical Society, said: “Chemistry should no longer be seen as the problem, as it was for decades, but now as the indispensible solution to the global challenges we face. Sustainable development on this Earth does not mean less chemistry, but more chemistry.”
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The Benefits Of Sparse Shuttles

As I’m sure many attendees of the ACS national meeting this week noticed, the shuttle pick-up times were rather, um, sparse. This threw a wrench into the works for those who like to hop back and forth between sessions. As a result, many of us had to commit to certain symposia and listen to talks that we might otherwise have skipped out on.

And there are always one or two talks in a session that don’t entirely fit in with the theme running through the others. But sticking around for those talks doesn’t necessarily turn out to be such a bad thing.

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Moments At A Poster Session

Company pride (Drahl/C&EN)
Company pride, pushpin-style.


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ACS National Meeting Dress Code

The national meeting program comprises over 400 pages of information, some of which is actually useful. It tells you where to see talks, what hotels to book, where to catch the bus, and how to find free food. One thing it does not tell you is what to wear—and I wish it would.

It’s high time for the ACS to either establish a dress code or at least provide guidance on the matter. Since I expect no such by-law will weave its way through the executive committee, I am taking it upon myself to set the rules. And they’re, like, totally official because this is the official blog of the official magazine of the ACS.

For some reason, dress codes are always set by what men are supposed to wear. (Women don’t wear sports jackets to “jacket-required” events, nor do they wear ties (of any color) to black-tie events.) I assume all women are just born with some innate conversion factor that lets them know what to do. With that in mind, I can boil down the official ACS National Meeting dress code to two simple rules:
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The Langmuir Lectures: Of Colloids and Mussels

Yesterday afternoon, I attended the Langmuir Award Lectures, a session the Division of Colloid & Surface Chemistry has been hosting for well over 20 years, according to presider Deborah Leckband.

This year’s awards went to Jennifer A. Lewis of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and Phillip B. Messersmith of Northwestern University. Each gave an overview of the research that garnered them the award, interspersed with tantalizing bits of unpublished results. The differences in their presentations, though, interested me almost as much as the award-winning research.

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C&EN Fan Club

I found Murray State University chemistry professor Bommanna Loganathan grinning from ear to ear after having made the cover of C&EN on Monday morning. He and 125 other avid C&EN readers got personalized covers during a two-hour event at the ACS publications booth in the expo hall. We love you, too, Bommanna!

WMD Goodie Bag

If you are looking for a light moment at an ACS national meeting, you wouldn’t first think of finding it in a talk titled “Weapons of Mass Destruction Counterproliferation: Interdict/RADACAD training.”  But program manager William C. Cliff of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, in Richland, Wash., delivered a combo of deadly serious and seriously entertaining material to the small audience that gathered to hear him first thing in the morning this past Monday at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.  And everyone walked away with a veritable WMD goodie bag.
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