Chemistry's in the forecast for National Chemistry WeekOctober 28, 1999
Fun facts for weather segments, with a focus on these natural insulators
Whether the weather's good or bad, most people turn to polymers for protection - and polymers are the focus of this year's National Chemistry Week, November 7-13. Both natural and synthetic polymers are natural insulators and are in lots of the products we use to protect ourselves in bad whether, from Teflon in sports gear and plastics in umbrellas and sunglasses to acrylic fibers in jackets. In nature, the same is true - you'll find polymers in animal fur and feathers.
Thousands of children and chemists across the U.S. will gather the week of November 7 to celebrate National Chemistry Week, now in its 12th year, sponsored by the world's largest scientific society, the American Chemical Society. Your viewers and listeners can find out more about National Chemistry Week by logging on to the Web at http://www.acs.org/ncw.
Here are more chemistry facts about the weather to round out the week:
- Polymers are a class of chemicals that are both natural and synthetic. You can find them in the foods we eat, in fur and feathers on animals, and in natural substances like rubber and tree sap. A polymer is a very large molecule that is made up of repeating chemical units bonded together in a long chain; usually, it contains carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and/or silicon.
- 78 percent of the atmosphere is nitrogen, but nitrogen is unusable by most living organisms. At the speed of light, however, a bolt of lightening can change all that. It transforms the stubborn nitrogen into a more user-friendly form that gets washed into the soil and is then used by plants for leafy growth.
- If earth is an apple, then we are basically living on the "skin" of the apple. Our planet is a sphere with an inner core made of iron and nickel. Surrounding that is another thick layer called the mantle, which is basically made of oxygen, silicon, magnesium and iron. At the surface of the earth is a thin crust made of the continents and the oceans. Only 5 to 25 miles thick, it's a mere fraction of the 3000-mile distance from the surface to the center of the earth.
- Out of every 1000 molecules of air you inhale with each breath, only 209 are oxygen - the gas that sustains life. Of the remaining molecules, 780 are nitrogen (a relatively unreactive gas) and 9 are argon (a very unreactive gas). This leaves just two molecules out of a 1000 for all the other gases in the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and helium.-end-A nonprofit organization with a membership of nearly 159,000 chemists and chemical engineers, the American Chemical Society publishes scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences, and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio. (http://www.acs.org)
American Chemical Society
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