ACS: Pressurized preservation

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So, here I am in Washington DC for the fall 2009 meeting of the ACS. This is my first time in DC, so I arrived a day early to fit some touristy activities into my schedule – first stop a photo of The White House from as close as I could get (which in case you didn’t know is a long way away…).

I then went to see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights at the National Archives – and here’s a chemistry fact for you – they’re kept under pressurized helium. Now these are very important documents, and I’m not surprised to find that an inert atmosphere is used, but I did wonder about why helium was used instead of argon? Argon would probably be the synthetic chemist’s choice for an inert gas, particularly as it’s density makes it easier to work with, and as far as I know it’s cheaper as well.

My final stop yesterday was the Smithsonian museum of American History. Being a bit of a science geek, I was surprised to find and immediately headed for the Science in American Life exhibit which is currently running – so if you have a gap in your schedule or, dare I say it, are sloping off from the sessions at the ACS, I can highly recommend it.


Stephen Davey (Associate Editor, Nature Chemistry)

Stephen Davey

Chief Editor, Nature Reviews Chemistry, Springer Nature

Stephen holds a PhD in chemistry from the University of Sheffield where he conducted research on asymmetric nucleophilic catalysis. He then moved to Groningen, Netherlands for postdoctoral research on the synthesis and applications of light-driven molecular motors. He has been a chemistry editor for 12 years. He began his editorial career with the Royal Society of Chemistry (working on the journals Lab on a Chip and the Journal of Environmental Monitoring). In 2008 he joined the launch team of Nature Chemistry and later that year moved to Boston, USA where he stayed until the end of 2015. Shortly after returning to London he moved jobs to become Chief Editor for Nature Reviews Chemistry, which launched in 2017.