International Year of Chemistry Symposium :2011/10/7



A snap-shot of speakers
Mr. Takayuki Ueda, Dr. Ryoji Noyori and Mr. Yoshimitsu Kobayashi (from the left)

IYC Symposium "What would be conditions for chemistry to lead the next generation?" was held on 28th September at Yasuda Hall in The University of Tokyo. Dr. Ryoji Noyori, President of Riken, Mr. Yoshimitsu Kobayashi, President of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation, Mr. Takayuki Ueda, Director General of Manufacturing Industries Bureau, METI spoke each of their point of view on tasks and possibility of future development of chemistry and chemical industries in Japan. Around 450 audiences consisting of research workers, industry people and students listened earnestly.
After the symposium, exchange of opinions and information among lecturers, students, academicians, and industry people were observed everywhere.

→ Photo-album

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Dr. Yoshie Souma in the award ceremony for “Distinguished Women in Chemistry/ Chemical Engineering”:2011/8/5



A snap-shot of Dr. Souma just after the reception of the prize
A snap-shot of Dr. Souma just after the reception of the prize

Award Ceremony for “Distinguished Women in Chemistry/ Chemical Engineering” was held on August 2nd during the General Assembly of IUPAC in Puerto Rico, where Dr. Yoshie Souma was among the recipients of the award. The ceremony started around 6:30 p.m. with audience of 200 to 300 people. First, a one-man play to recall the life of Marie Curie was performed - a very impressive story from her birth to around 1902.

Presentation of the award started around 7:45 and awardees were called to stage one by one in the alphabetical order of their nation. Though it took up to 9 o’clock to finish all of them, most people remained to celebrate the awardees.

After the ceremony, a small party was given for Dr. Souma by mainly Japanese people.

(Nobuyuki Kawashima, Executive Director of The Chemical Society of Japan)

→ Distinguished Women in Chemistry/Chemical Engineering

→ Achivement of Awardees

→ Play of Madam Curie:video on-line

→ Photo-album(Japanese)

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The International Year of Chemistry and challenges in chemistry:2011/8/1


published date:2011/08/01
Author:Yasuhiro Iwasawa (Innovation Research Center for Fuel Cells, The University of Electro-Communications)
First appearance:Kagaku to Kogyo│ Vol.64-8 August 2011

The history and background of the designation of the “International Year of Chemistry”

At the 72nd plenary meeting of the United Nations General Assembly (December 19, 2008), it was decided that 2011 would be designated as the International Year of Chemistry: IYC2011. The International Year of Chemistry was called for by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and approved by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), then adopted at the 179th session of the Executive Board, proposed to the United Nations, and realized. The Committee for Chemistry of the Science Council of Japan (at the time, chaired by Yasuhiro Iwasawa), which was the contact point for IUPAC in Japan, and an IUPAC subcommittee (at the time, chaired by Teizo Kitagawa) agreed with IUPAC and made Japan another joint proposing country for the International Year of Chemistry by appeals to UNESCO’s Japan branch. 2011 marks the 100th year since Maria Sk?odowska-Curie (November 7, 1867 to July 4, 1934) received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (in 1911, for discovering radium and polonium, and her research on the properties and compounds of radium), as well as the 100th anniversary of the founding of IUPAC’s forerunner, the International Union of Chemistry (name changed to IUPAC in 1919), which is also worthy of celebration.

Radium is the element of atomic number 88. Polonium is the element of atomic number 84, named after Curie’s native country of Poland. All isotopes of both elements are radioactive. Curie also received the Nobel Prize in Physics for “research on radioactivity.” in 1903. It was Curie, too, who discovered that a radiation different from X-rays is released by uranium ore, and who proposed naming that property“ radioactivity.”

In Nature, 469, 7328 (Jan. 2011) there was an article titled“ Celebrating the International Year of Chemistry: The Core and Future of Science,” which brought expectations for the contributions of chemistry as the“ central science.”

Activities for the International Year of Chemistry

Logo of International Year of Chemistry

Under the unified theme of“ Chemistry?our life, our future,” the International Year of Chemistry involves conducting chemistry-related educational and popularization activities in coordination with each country of the world with the aims of (1) advancing society’s understanding of chemistry, (2) getting younger generations interested in chemistry, (3) supporting the passionate contributions of chemists to a creative future, and (4) fostering an environment for women to participate in chemistry. The logo for the International Year of Chemistry is shown here.
While advancing society’s understanding of the importance of chemistry, a re-appreciation of the role that chemistry plays in realizing a sustainable society will be sought, and the coordination and cooperation of industry, government, and academia on activities will be recommended under the banner of the International Year of Chemistry.

In Japan, chemistry-related academic societies, organizations, and others in academia and industry have already spent many years working with these focuses and objectives, such as periodically holding Chemistry Makes Our Dreams Come True campaigns, holding the International Chemistry Olympiad in Tokyo last July, and otherwise striving to enlighten the general public broadly―including high school students―about chemistry and to cultivate human resources.
To promote the International Year of Chemistry projects in Japan, on August 6, 2010 the International Year of Chemistry Japan Committee (chaired by Ryoji Noyori, President of RIKEN; vice-chaired by the author, Yasuhiro Iwasawa, President of the Chemical Society of Japan, and Makoto Misono, President of the Japan Union of Chemical Science and Technology) was established, a Planning Committee (chaired by Yasuhiro Iwasawa) and an Executive Committee (chaired by Hiroyuki Nishide, former President of the Society of Polymer Science, Japan) were formed, and a Secretariat was set up within the Japan Union of Chemical Science and Technology. The members are well-known representatives from all sectors, including former Education Minister Akito Arima, Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) Chairman Hiromasa Yonekura, National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation Director Mamoru Mouri, National Museum of Nature and Science Director General Shinji Kondo, Japan Science and Technology Agency President Koichi Kitazawa, and IUPAC Vice President Kazuyuki Tatsumi. Various projects are formulated in coordination between the two committees, while substantively the Chemical Society of Japan and many other chemistry-oriented academic societies are executing their own events to mark the year. Universities, research institutions, businesses, and the media are also participating through independent projects. The IYC Management Committee set up within IUPAC oversees planning for the International Year of Chemistry projects all over the world. As of June, there are already 73 projects and events registered as International Year of Chemistry projects in Japan, with a variety of events being put on using the logo. There are all manner of plans being formulated at present, and below are listed several specific projects of IUPAC, the Chemical Society of Japan, etc.


December 2010: Countdown Memorial Symposium (Japan Union of Chemical Science and Technology)
December 2010: IYC Reception (The Chemical Society of Japan,Pacifichem 2010)
January 2011: IYC Opening Ceremony (IUPAC, UNESCO Headquarters in Paris)
June 2011: Japan-Germany Symposium (The Chemical Society of Japan, German Chemical Society)
August 2011: World Chemistry Leadership Conference (IUPAC, Puerto Rico)
August 2011: Marie Curie Reading Impression Essay Contest (Japan Union of Chemical Science and Technology)
September 2011: International Year of Chemistry Memorial Symposium (The Chemical Society of Japan)
September 2011: Exhibition on Japanese Chemists (National Museum of Nature and Science, The Chemical Society of Japan)
October 2011: Chemistry Communication Prize (Japan Union of Chemical Science and Technology)
November 2011: Chemistry Makes Our Dreams Come True Summer Vacation Kids Chemistry Experience Show (The Chemical Society of Japan, The Society of Chemical Engineers, The Association for the Progress of New Chemistry, Japan Chemical Industry Association)
November 2011: Your Magic: Chemistry“ New” Discovery Expo (National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, The Chemical Society of Japan)
December 2011: Science Festival (Cabinet Office, IYC Japan Committee)
December 2011: IYC Closing Ceremony (IUPAC, Brussels)


In addition to organizational efforts, IUPAC maintains the IYC Network system that enables participation in the International Year of Chemistry at the individual level. Although the entries are limited to English, there are expected to be many“ individual projects” entered and “thoughts about chemistry” disseminated from Japan as well, among other direct participation in international activities through the network.

Challenges in chemistry and culture of the mind

Within the past century, quantum chemistry, atmospheric nitrogen fixation (ammonia synthesis), polyethylene, nylon, conducting polymers, asymmetric synthesis of pharmaceuticals, enzyme catalysts and photocatalysts, chemical reactions (cross coupling, etc.), fullerenes, nanotubes, graphene, atomic and molecular measurement, molecular imaging, solar cells, storage cells, fuel cells, and other remarkable discoveries and inventions have happened in the field of chemistry, with these findings being utilized to create many superior technologies. Science and technology are expected to contribute to society at large more than just public policy and the economy, but this will necessitate even greater development of basic science and advanced technologies, which will require supporting the promotion of science and technology that is rooted in the unrestrained creativity and diverse values of young people. This will also require the understanding of the general public. Humankind faces shortages and depletion of resources on a limited planet ear th, energy issues, climate change and environmental degradation, water and food issues, medical, health, and safety issues, emerging and reemerging infectious diseases, major disasters, and other challenges on a global scale, and the expectations for science and technology to resolve those issues are ever growing. Contributions from chemistry are being sought for many of those challenges. This March 11, The Accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations occurred in Japan, stemming from the Great East Japan Earthquake, posing grave problems for energy policy not only in Japan, but in countries all over the world. As the International Year of Chemistry, this year requires the chemistry society to tackle such problems seriously, and contribute to future resources, energy, and environmental needs through decontamination, energy strategies, and the formulation of a grand design for recovery. Cutting-edge science and sophisticated technology are intellectual activities that can be called a“ culture of the mind” that humans have exclusively acquired through a long process of evolution. In 2011, when the International Year of Chemistry projects are being implemented all over the world, it is my hope that chemistry will advance even further, its importance will be widely diffused and understood in society, Japan’s science and technology will continue to advance, the development and expansion of human resources to support a sustainable society will be undertaken, and this will be a shining year for chemistry in which Japan builds a dynamic future.

(Yasuhiro Iwasawa)

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Distinguished Women in Chemistry Award to Yoshie Soma


Yoshie Soma, Photo
Dr. Yoshie Souma

Coinciding with the International Year of Chemistry, IUPAC created the “Distinguished Women in Chemistry” award for women chemists with a superb professional record in chemistry and chemical engineering. In Japan, Yoshie Soma received this award. Her outstanding record of catalyst research, educating female chemists, and her broad range of activity have been recognized with this award. From Israel, winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Ada Yonath, from Thailand H.R.H. Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol, and 20 other women chemists from 16 countries were selected. On August 2nd, the awards will be presented at the IUPAC general meeting in Puerto Rico.

(Chemical Society of Japan IYC Committee)

→Distinguished Women in Chemistry Award to Yoshie Soma (Japanese)

→Distinguished Women in Chemistry/Chemical Engineering

→The list of winners

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Madam Curie and Tamagawa Hotspring :2011/7/13


published date:2011/01/01
Author:Mizue Kissho (Science Sutudio Marie)
First appearance:Kagaku to Kogyo│ Vol.64-1 January 2011

What if Marie Curie used hokutolite?

Tamagawa Hotspring
Tamagawa Hotspring

I recently visited Tamagawa Onsen, a famous radium hotspring, in Akita prefecture. In Japan, Futamata Radium Onsen (Hokkaido), Masutomi Onsen (Yamanashi), and Miasa Onsen (Tottori) are known as radium hotsprings. Tamagawa Onsen, along with Beitou Hotspring in Taiwan, are the only two places in the world known to produce hokutolite (Ba, Pb)SO4, and are designated as Natural Monuments.

If one speaks of radium, one speaks of Madam Curie. She traced Becquerel rays. Hence, she predicted that unknown elements existed in the highly radioactive ore pitchblende, and this she quantitatively measured with an electrical device invented by Curie brothers. The two new elements, polonium and radium, were discovered in pitchblende in 1898. In 1902, the beautiful blue-white glowing element, atomic number 88, radium, was successfully isolated. Obtaining 0.1 g of radium through fractional crystallization from 8 tons of pitchblende required 3 years and 9 months of toil. What of Marie Curie had used hokutolite instead?

(Mizue Kissho)

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Kazuko Ogino is awarded the FACS Chemistry Education Prize :2011/7/11


Kazuko Ogino, Photo
Professor Kazuko Ogino

The Federation of Asian Chemical Societies (FACS) recognizes contributors to the development of chemistry and chemical engineering with five different awards. This year, the FACS Distinguished Contribution to Chemical Education Award 2011 was awarded to Kazuko Ogino (Tohoku University Medical Technology College Distinguished Professor) The award will be presented at the 14th Asian Chemical Society Meeting held in Bankok, Thailand, from the 5th to the 8th of September.

(Chemical Society of Japan IYC Committee Member)

→FACS Award winners (Japanese)

→FACS official site

→14th Asian Chemical Congress 2011

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Film “Samurai Chemist: the Life of Joukichi Takamine” :2011/6/1


The poster of film
Movie poster of “Sakura Sakura”

This is a dramatic presentation on film of the biography of Joukichi Takamine, a scientist who contributed greatly to medical development and played a leading role in providing a gift of cherry trees to Washington DC. In addition to discovering takadiesterase, still used medicinally, Takamine was a bridge between Japan and the United States during the tumultuous Meiji era, and was seen as a world leading chemist.

(Chemical Society of Japan IYC committee)

→Official Site of this Film (Japanese)

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Chemistry Cards Element Edition :2011/6/1


Chemistry Cards Element Edition

In order to help children discover the fun and fascination of chemistry, the Dream Chemistry 21 committee has prepared “Chemistry Cards, Element Edition”. Of the approximately 110 elements 48 well-known elements were selected and illustrated on cards along with easily understood characteristics and uses. Henceforth, it is planned that they will be used in regional classroom laboratories.

(Chemical Society of Japan IYC Committee)

→How to play, Chemistry Cards (Japanese)

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Chemical Heritage :2011/6/1


Chemical Legacy Recognition No.1
The first recognized legacy; Illustration of a Kipp’s gas generator by Yôan Udagawa

Every year the Chemical Heritage Committee holds “Chemical Legacy Recognition”. Through recognition of particularly valuable moments in the history of chemistry, they are passed on to the next generation as cultural and industrial legacies and are useful for further development.

(Chemical Society of Japan)

→Official site of Chemical Heritage Committee (Japanese)

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Madam Curie and the Black Rock :2011/6/1


published date:2011/02/01
Author:Mizue Kissho (Science Sutudio Marie)
First appearance:Kagaku to Kogyo│ Vol.64-2 February 2011

100th anniversary of Madam Curie’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Madam Curie has been called the Radium Woman, and along with Einstein is one of the great scientists of the 20th century. Discovering in the uranium ore pitchblende, two more highly radioactive elements, polonium (Po) and radium (Ra), she was the first woman Nobel laureate as well as the first person to win two Nobel prizes (1903 in physics, 1911 in chemistry). Madam Curie was not only devoted to research, but also to childhood education, and with her research colleagues held a class “Madam Curie’s Science Classroom”. In that classroom, children were immersed in the scientific way of thinking and their intellectual curiosity was greatly stimulated. A young girl in that class, Isabel, became a chemist, which was uncommon at that time. Marie Curie’s daughter Elena continued her mother’s research and she too received a Nobel Prize. Of the 840 Nobel laureates up to 2010, they are the only mother and daughter to win the Prize.

New Highly Radioactive Materials in Pitchblende

Photograph by author, at Universite Pierre and Marie Curie

According to experiment notes on 16 December 1897 Madam Curie and her brother Pierre began measuring radioactivity with an electrical device they invented. At first they examined white uranium powder, gold, copper, and ten other simple elements. On 17 February 1898 they analyzed the heavy, black, ore pitchblende. On the 24th of February they analyzed eschynite, which although contains thorium, does not contain uranium, and found radiation stronger than either. On 18 March 1898 a second notebook was started, and a uranium ore similar to pitchblende, thucholite, was tested. On 9 April Madam Curie repeatedly analyzed pure uranium and three different varieties of pitchblende, and confirmed radiation sources 2, 3, and 4 times stronger than uranium. Three days later, on 12 April, she presented a paper to the academy. The following Thursday the Curies crushed 100 grams of pitchblende and began isolating the mystery element. On 26 December 1898 she reported in one manuscript the discovery of the new radioactive element, radium.

Madam Curie’s interest in minerals

Madam Curie’s interest was attracted to radiation by radioactive elements. Colleagues who ventured to other countries were asked to look for radioactive ores and send them back to the laboratory collection. A Czech from the research institute accompanied Amundsen to the North Pole and returned with mineral samples. A contributor to the January issue of this journal introduced in an article the famous radium hotspring, Tamagawa Onsen, “What if Madam Curie had known about hakutolite?” In her childhood when she was affectionately called Manya, the book loving, filled with curiosity little girl looked at the mineral book in the cabinet in her father’s study, and the exciting rock samples and the strange black pitchblende from the following years overlapped.

(Mizue Kissho)

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