N e w s l e t t e r
t h e
C h e m i ca l
H e r i t a g e
F o u n d a t i o n
No. 14 | Fall 2013
Constructing History: The John C. Haas Archive of Science and Business at CHF
No. 14 | Fall 2013
Comments or questions about this issue? Please contact David Haldeman, Communications Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org For information on supporting CHF please contact Denise Creedon, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, email@example.com
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Transmutations is a newsletter published three times per year for supporters of CHF.
What makes CHF a one-of-a-kind institution? When I arrived in Philadelphia in late July, I was aware of at least one of the reasons. CHF is unique in the breadth of functions it unites under one roof. It is an active collecting organization, working through its library, archives, and museum. It generates content through the fellowship program and directed research activities. It builds and strengthens scientific and technical communities, making them aware of the crucial role of history and heritage through the awards program and such events as Heritage Day and Innovation Day. It connects the spheres of science and technology with the humanities and the public to meet our goal of showcasing scientific and technical culture. Now in my fourth month as CHF’s president and CEO, I have become aware of other reasons for our foundation’s uniqueness. The fundamental challenge confronted by an integrated institution in our field is that of having too many opportunities in front of us, not too few. We are facing an unprecedented amount of historical sources becoming available for our archives, library, and collections owing to the exponential growth of the sciences and technologies through the last decades of the 20th century. Now is the time to harvest that information, including the material heritage of the sciences and industries, ranging from the everyday to the high-tech. Because our society is not taking good care of the needs of scientific research and education, we lose many of the benefits scientific innovations can offer. CHF’s impact is greatest when it shows the vulnerability of the scientific enterprise alongside its enormous potential. These opportunities for CHF arrive at a time when the humanities are experiencing their own digital revolution. Computational history of science, based on the digitization of documents, objects, and artifacts, entails many phases of archival and collecting work, and it extends as a matter of course to the practice of historical writing and its digital presence. Managing all this information thus becomes a challenge of first rank in its own right, comparable only to the biggest brick-and-mortar projects we have undertaken in the last two decades. These challenges and opportunities help make CHF such a unique place. And they are worthwhile to meet, as they enable us to obtain a perspective through the
Design: WFGD Studio
history of the chemical sciences and technologies. I look forward to sharing this perspective with you.
[On the Cover]
main image: The front of the John C. Haas Archive of Science and Business on Third Street in Philadelphia. Photo by David Haldeman. Lower left: Arnold Thackray, chancellor of CHF, with Carsten Reinhardt, president and CEO. Photo by Conrad Erb. Lower right: Particle Falls, an art installation that visualizes air-quality data, projected onto the façade of the Wilma Theater on Broad Street in Philadelphia. Photo by Conrad Erb.
Carsten Reinhardt President and CEO
Photo by Conrad Erb
Constructing History The history of science community has a new resource: The John C. Haas Archive of Science and business n the early 1980s all of CHF was housed in two rooms in the basement of a building at the University of Pennsylvania. John C. Haas, philanthropist and retired chairman of Rohm and Haas Company, was there with CHF from the beginning—in fact, before the beginning. Haas’s support and advocacy played a major role in CHF’s establishment and helped transform CHF (then known as the Center for the History of Chemistry) from a modest organization to the internationally renowned repository that it is today, with over 120,000 printed volumes; 30,000 photographs; and the papers of hundreds of illustrious scientists, engineers, companies, and organizations. “John helped steer the Center for the History of Chemistry in Philadelphia to global prominence, as he stayed involved through three decades,” said CHF founder and past president Arnold Thackray in a 2011 interview. Now CHF is honoring Haas through the dedication of the John C. Haas Archive of Science and Business, the organization’s newest milestone, one that will serve the history of science community for decades to come. Located on Third Street adjacent to CHF’s main buildings, the archive building will contain CHF’s growing collection of papers of famous and significant scientists,
Photo by B and H Photographics
engineers, and innovators; the historical records of important businesses and industries that have a strong science, technology, and medical connection; and the papers of scientific and engineering societies and organizations that have had a major impact on science. Further, the space provided by the John C. Haas Archive will allow for the acquisition of materials in the history of chemistry that may not otherwise have been attainable. And in a few cases the building may save some collections from being lost altogether. “The archive helps improve the chances of collections being preserved that otherwise might not find a home,” says Ron Brashear, the Arnold Thackray Director of the Othmer Library of Chemical History at CHF. Without the archive building, “If we were offered a collection, we might have to decide we couldn’t take it, and there might not be another place that could take the collection. Not everyone has the same priorities that we do.” Originally built in 1855 the building has a classic mid-19th-century brownstone façade: ornate but modest—the kind of place one could imagine housing a roaring fire on a winter’s night. But now the inside is all business. Massive, solid-gray steel shelving units, standing three-and-a-half stories tall, reach to the ceiling, most accessible only by a lift. These shelves will eventually hold approximately 8,500 linear feet of material—1.6 miles—and allow CHF to move materials from a storage facility in Delaware to CHF’s grounds. According to Brashear, this move could help lead to more discoveries on the part of researchers. “If you have all this material in one place, you can start making connections between different collections that might not be obvious
John C. Haas. [Above] Interior view of the archive, including its three-anda-half-story-tall shelves.
on the surface,” says Brashear. “The more you have in one place, the more you can dig in and make serendipitous discoveries.” It was through a collections acquisition that this opportunity to honor Haas’s legacy emerged. When The Dow Chemical Company purchased Rohm and Haas in 2009, it inherited a century’s worth of the company’s archives. Dow—also an early advocate of CHF— decided to entrust the Rohm and Haas archives, along with its own company archives, to CHF. In addition to naming the building in honor of Haas, the Rohm and Haas Company archives were the first materials placed within the new building after its official dedication on October 10. In a world where talk is cheap, Haas was a modest man of action. According to Thackray, who was instrumental in the new building’s development, “John was a gentle man in every sense: polite, quiet, and thoughtful. His complete integrity is displayed in the fact that when he said he would do something, he did it.” Though Haas passed away in 2011, his ability to keep his promises will continue to benefit the history of chemistry community. The John C. Haas Archive of Science and Business will help CHF’s collections grow for decades—just as Haas helped CHF grow during his lifetime. For more information about supporting CHF, contact Denise Creedon at 215.873.8266 or email@example.com. 1
Fellow in Focus
Robert Fox The universalist movement in science believed that conflict is reduced as knowledge spreads. These optimistic ideals, which began to emerge in the late 19th century, spawned wide-reaching efforts to establish nomenclature (particularly in chemistry), create institutions for collecting and distributing books and journals, and break down barriers between nations. “It’s very hard for us now to look back through the mists of war Robert Fox. and see how strong this universalist dream was before the First World War,” says Robert Fox, emeritus professor of the history of science at Oxford University. Beginning in 1914, as countries across a divided Europe shifted their priorities from information sharing to survival, World War I cast a pall over the movement’s ideals. Fox is fascinated by this pre- and postwar shift in universalism, and has come from Oxford as a Cain Distinguished
Fellow to explore CHF’s collections. Fox is hoping to better understand the movement’s rise from 1870 to 1914 and its decline after the war from 1920 to 1940, when scientific progress would begin to be seen as a symbol of national pride rather than a tool for world peace. There were attempts to maintain the ideal after World War I, most notably the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, which was formed in 1919 to bring together all the European countries to exchange findings in chemistry. But a nationalist streak showed through: German chemists were excluded, and the use of the German language was forbidden. “Given how powerful the Germans were in chemistry, that’s perverse. It was inevitable you couldn’t keep them out the whole time,” Fox laughs. Some of the results of Fox’s findings were included in “Mapping the Universe of Knowledge: Internationalism and National Interest in Modern Science,” a lecture he presented to the public at CHF in mid-November. There is a danger within the history of science that we just end up talking to one another and not the wider world,” says Fox. “Here we have an opportunity, and at CHF it’s seized.”
Speaking of Chemistry Photo by Douglas A. Lockard
Photo by David Haldeman
A dream of science as peacemaker is broken by the nightmare of war
Robert Gore “A new world of possibilities was open to us” This year marks the 75th anniversary of Teflon (polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE), which was accidentally discovered in 1938 by Roy Plunkett. Few realize that this material, which we associate with nonstick cookware, also appears in an expanded, porous form: Gore-Tex, a remarkable substance developed by Robert Gore. The exciting moment of the discovery of Gore-Tex, which came only after many repeated unsuccessful efforts, is described by Gore in his book The Early Days of W. L. Gore and Associates. “One night in late October  . . . I set the lab oven to high temperature, just below the PTFE melt point. At this high temperature, I was having very poor luck with my stretching experiments. I was stretching the beading very carefully, and I was getting results that were only 10 percent stretch, or even 2
less, before they would break. . . . I was really frustrated. I was being so careful, and I actually said to the next sample, ‘Well, if you won’t stretch carefully, I’m going to give you a yank.’ And I took it out of the oven, I gave it a vicious yank, and the thing stretched the full length of my two outstretched arms, about ten times its original length! . . . I tried another sample. It stretched just like the first. Nobody had ever thought PTFE could be stretched ten times its original length. . . . I was in some kind of shock. “The key to expanding PTFE was a rapid pull . . . pulling it out to about an 800 percent stretch. In this stretched form the sample maintained the same diameter as the original, since air had been induced into its structure, hence the term ‘expanded’ PTFE.
“[With this discovery] . . . a new world of possibilities was open to us. We could envision possibilities for many new products and many new fields of application.” Richard Ulrych, Director of Institutional Grants and Strategic Projects To support CHF’s oral-biography program, please contact Richard Ulrych at 215.873.8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by George Wong
Photo by Mauricio Ramirez Fotographia
The audience watches a panel discussion at the 2011 T. T. Chao Symposium. [right] James Watson speaks at the 2012 Chao Symposium. [bottom] Albert Chao with J. Craig Venter, genomics pioneer and speaker at the 2011 symposium. [left]
The T. T. Chao Symposium Now in its FIFTH year, a Houston event addresses world challenges civilized society provide for the basic nutrition of its people? What will prevent a hunger crisis in the 21st century as the world’s population grows from seven billion to ten billion by 2050? On October 24 the symposium examined these complex issues of providing adequate nutrition to the world’s growing population and featured opening remarks by Per Pinstrup-Andersen, winner of the 2001 World Food Prize. As the symposium continues to grow in reputation and reach, allowing its panels and talks to be accessed internationally has become ever more important. That’s why in 2013 the T. T. Chao Symposium was webcast for the first time, allowing for viewership and engagement everywhere. More information and media can be accessed on the web at www.chemheritage.org/Chao2013. The T. T. Chao Symposium is made possible through the generosity of the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Foundation. We’re excited to discuss how to direct your philanthropic support to projects like the T. T. Chao Symposium. Please contact Denise Creedon at 215.873.8266 or email@example.com.
Photo by Mauricio Ramirez Fotographia
In 2008 CHF, along with Houston business leaders T. T. Chao and his sons Albert and James Chao, had an idea for a symposium to address an important question: how can the industrial and entrepreneurial heritage of Houston—one of the innovation centers for the chemical industry—be adapted to address the larger needs of society? The Chaos were well positioned to gather together experts in the technical, business, and policy fields to discuss this question. T. T. Chao (1921–2008), a pioneer in the chemical and plastics industries, founded Westlake Chemical Company in Houston in 1986. In just two short decades he and his sons steered Westlake into a position as one of the world’s most prominent chemical companies. It was decided that each year a different topic of broad scope and importance would be discussed, with the hope that the conference would celebrate and encourage innovation in the Houston region, and, in the words of Albert Chao, “add value to society.” The first symposium, named in honor of T. T. Chao, proved a success, and has since grown in scale to address vital issues, including genome therapies, nanoscale science, fuel-production technology, and science policy. Speakers of note have included Nobel laureates James Watson, Yuan Lee, Robert Curl, and Sir Harry Kroto; distinguished scientists Leroy Hood, J. Craig Venter, Nate Lewis, and Mae Jemison; leading business executives Nancy Chang and Emil Jacobs; and noted New York Times journalist Andrew Revkin. In this, its fifth year, CHF’s T. T. Chao Symposium brought experts together to Houston in late October to discuss another great issue facing humanity: food production and food security. From planting to policy, how does a
and rockets. Moore studied chemistry as he made his way through high school and the University of California, Berkeley. Determined to become a chemist, he won a place at Caltech where he earned his Ph.D. in physical chemistry. In 1956 Moore joined the first silicon electronics lab in what later became known as Silicon Valley. The lab was set up by transistor guru William Shockley and instrumentation pioneer Arnold O. Beckman. Moore and seven others left the troubled lab in 1957 and created Fairchild Semiconductor. Moore directed R&D for Fairchild, and his lab created the dominant form of silicon microchip from the 1960s to the 2000s. In the mid-1960s Moore realized that silicon microchips had the potential to make electronics far cheaper than ever imagined. But first the chemical technology for making them had to be improved and ever more complex chips created. Moore also realized that these dynamic improvements could take place at a breakneck speed. This insight has become widely known as Moore’s law. In 1968 Moore and Bob Noyce started Intel, which has become the world’s largest microchip maker. Moore became its longest-serving CEO.
photo by conrad erb
Try to imagine your life without silicon microchips. They run every digital device you have: your computers, telephones, tablets, and televisions. They are also at the heart of devices you might not immediately expect: your car, thermostat, microwave, and so on. They are part and parcel of every segment of the international economy. Where do they come from and how are they made? Gordon E. Moore will tell you that these silicon microchips are made from a “powerful and flexible technology . . . that exploits the properties of silicon, a major component of sand and the second most common element in the earth’s crust.” While microchips are “known for their electrical functions,” Moore explains, “they are built using applied chemistry.” The microchip industry is then, in his eyes, “a large and key industry built from sand by chemistry.” Moore should know: he helped invent it. Moore’s is a lifelong passion for chemistry. Born in 1929 near San Francisco, Moore first encountered chemistry at age 10 in the guise of his friend’s chemistry set. He was hooked, particularly by the ability to make explosives
photo courtesy Intel Free Press
donor profile Gordon E. Moore
Gordon E. Moore.
Gordon Moore and his wife of six decades, Betty, are among the world’s leading philanthropists through their private giving and through the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Their largest gifts have been to higher education and to biodiversity conservation. The Moores have also been strong supporters of the work of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, with particular interest in our rare-book collections, oral-history center, archival collecting, and historical research.
Watch a profile of Gordon Moore in CHF’s new film series Scientists You Must Know. Visit www. chemheritage.org/GordonMoore
CHF gratefully acknowledges the following sponsors for their support of
Innovation Day Premier Sponsor
The Warren and Katharine Schlinger Foundation
Clifford C. Hach Gallery The Museum at CHF Through May 2, 2014 4
See our environment with fresh eyes. Sensing Change presents art inspired by scientific investigations, historical accounts, and direct observations of the natural world. Log on to chemheritage.org/SensingChange for interviews with featured artists, oral histories of atmospheric scientists, and the stories behind instruments that measure environmental change.
Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.
American Air Liquide, Inc.
The Dow Chemical Company
Arizona Chemical Company, LLC.
Eastman Chemical Company
ExxonMobil Chemical Company Honeywell
Momentive Specialty Chemicals, Inc. Solvay W. R. Grace & Co.
photo by conrad erb
Particle Falls, an art installation by Andrea Polli, offers creative real-time visualization of air-quality data on one of Philadelphia’s busiest streets. For support of Particle Falls and Sensing Change, CHF is grateful to The Dow Chemical Company, Public Health Fund, Daniel Dietrich Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Additionally, CHF acknowledges U.S. Trust for companion programming and event sponsorship. CHF also recognizes Kathryn Hach-Darrow’s important support of exhibits in the Clifford C. Hach Gallery.
All photos: Conrad Erb.
 Diane Burko, Richard Ryan, and Roderick Coover at the launch of Sensing Change, a year-long exhibit and related programs that explore and respond both to daily shifts in our environment and to long-term climate change.  Carsten Reinhardt with Meher and Eugene Garfield, founder and chairman emeritus, Institute for Scientific Information, at the reception welcoming Reinhardt as CHF’s third president.  Andrea Polli, creator of Particle Falls and Mesa del Sol Endowed Chair of Digital Media and director of the Social Media Workgroup at the University of New Mexico, speaks during the Particle Falls premiere event.  David Haas, chair of the William Penn Foundation, and Carsten Reinhardt cut the ribbon at the opening of the John C. Haas Archive of Science and Business.  Left to right: Magdalena Klosin, professor of English at Northwood University; Jerzy Klosin, research fellow, The Dow Chemical Company; and Jack Kluger, Dow corporate fellow. Klosin won the 10th Annual SCI Gordon E. Moore Medal at Innovation Day 2013.  Richard Holmes, best-selling author of The Age of Wonder and Falling Upwards, speaks at CHF in 2010. Holmes returned on October 30 for a talk on Falling Upwards, his book on the golden age of ballooning. CHF was the first stop on his American tour.  Left to right: Eduardo Glandt, professor and Nemirovsky Family Dean, School of Engineering and Applied Science, at the University of Pennsylvania; Arnold Thackray, CHF chancellor; Charles Valutas, former senior vice president and chief administrative officer of Sunoco, Inc.; Laurie Landeau, CHF board chair; Carsten Reinhardt; Lewis Gasorek, president of Listowel, Inc.; Sharon Haynie, principal investigator at DuPont; and Madeleine Joullié, professor of chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, at the welcoming reception for Carsten Reinhardt. Glandt, Valutas, Gasorek, Haynie, and Joullié are CHF board members.
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Through May 2014 Particle Falls Through December 1, 2013 Making Modernity Ongoing Transmutations: Alchemy in Art Ongoing The Whole of Nature and the Mirror of Art: Images of Alchemy Ongoing
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[Above] Visitors at Sensing Change.
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