26 No. 6
From the Editor
I am not sure why, but while proofing this issue, I got stuck on the words “function” and “functional.”
Read first the echoes of the 7th International Symposium on Biomolecular Chemistry (in print
p. 31), where George Whitesides spoke of the need to understand the fundamental nature of the cell as a system of chemical reactions, and the shift in emphasis in biology from structure to function. The word “function” is not only a keyword in biology, but in chemistry as well. Nowadays, chemists not only design new molecular architectures, they also manage to understand their properties and optimize their functions. As chemists move from studying structure/property relationships to analyzing structure/property/function, it becomes obvious that chemistry will form the foundation for growth in other sciences and technology. The recent MAM-04 and Fπ6 (in print p. 30) exemplified how progress in chemistry is leading to countless new technologies.
One can also view the idea of function in another context: the growing emphasis on “chemistry at the interfaces.” Functional properties have a prominent place in the interdisciplinary aspects of molecular science as reported in a recent double issue of the IUPAC journal Pure and Applied Chemistry that is devoted to a selection of papers presented at the 39th IUPAC Congress and 86th Conference (see p. 26). In the three symposia combined for this publication, the emphasis on “function” is in each case particular, but obvious.
Perhaps the best example of the “functional” aspect of chemistry is in a feature story by Josh McIlvain, who reports on the Chemical Heritage Foundation's recent exhibit “Her Lab in Your Life: Women in Chemistry” (see p. 8). The story and the exhibit itself feature a prescient quote from Ellen H. Richards, who in 1879 wrote: “We must show to the girls who are studying science in our schools that it has a very close relation to our everyday life.” While expressed in different words, the functional aspects of science were as important then as they are today.
last modified 17 November 2004.
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