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The American Chemical Society and PBS at Café Sci2

Marie Curie: A Lasting Legacy

Monday 29 August 2011, 6:30 PM, at Brooklyn's

The speakers

About the topic



About the topic

This event is cosponsored by the American Chemical Society Committee on Community Activities, Local Section Activities Committee, Division of Nuclear Chemistry and Technology and the Division of History of Chemistry. The ACS is having its Fall National Meeting in Denver from 28 August to 1 September 2011.

Madame CurieMarie Curie (left) is one of the major characters who will be featured in The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements, a two-hour PBS program about the human story behind the Periodic Table, now in production by the makers of the Emmy Award-winning films Forgotten Genius and Benjamin Franklin. Though the film will not be broadcast until 2012, the producers will screen a "sneak preview" of the Curie sequence at the Denver ACS meeting to help honor Curie during the 2011 IYC celebration. The short video will tell the remarkable story of how a Polish graduate student, studying in Paris at the dawn of the 20th century, seizes on a neglected subject the mysterious rays given off by uranium and, with the patience and tenacity that will become her trademark, gives birth to a whole new field of science: radioactivity. Radioactivity becomes a new tool for hunting down new elements, including two discovered by Curie herself: radium and polonium. But it is also a tantalizing window on the atom itself a clue that there may be smaller pieces inside. The Curie sequence will give viewers a taste of the techniques the producers of Search for the Elements will apply throughout the film to bring chemistry alive: using actors to reveal the creative process through the scientists' own words, conveying their landmark discoveries through re-enactments shot with working replicas of their original lab equipment, and peppering the script with colorful insights from chemists, historians and authors.

Our guest speakers for this event are Stephen Lyons from PBS, Project Director, The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements, and Carole Berg, Chemistry Professor, Bellevue College, Washington.

The speakers

Stephen Lyons is an award-winning writer and producer with 30 years of experience in print and broadcast media. He has written grant proposals, scripts and film treatments that have helped raise nearly $30 million for a half-dozen PBS series and specials for NOVA and American Experience. From April 1996 to June 2000, Lyons served as Senior Editor for Program Development at the WGBH Science Unit. There he helped launch new PBS series and specials on evolution, particle physics, the Human Genome Project, architecture and ancient technology, as well as a series of scientific biographies for NOVA. He also co-wrote and co-produced two NOVA programs.

Lyons later served as Project Director of the Percy Julian Biography Project, a four-year effort to increase public awareness of the 20th-century African American chemist Percy Julian. The project culminated in a two-hour biography of Julian, written and produced by Lyons and director Llew Smith. “Forgotten Genius” premiered on NOVA in 2007 and won an Emmy Award, the AAAS Science Journalism Award and the National Association of Science Writers “Science in Society” Award. Lyons is currently producing, with support from the National Science Foundation, another chemistry project called The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements, a two-hour special about the remarkable human story behind the Periodic Table.

Carole Berg is Affiliated Chemistry Professor at Bellevue College. "I have been teaching College for 42 years.  I am actually a Microbiologist with a BS in Bacteriology from WSU and a thesis Masters from the University of Washington in Microbiology.  After graduation, I worked as a Microbiologist in a private lab studying an organism that attacked the gills of salmon.  I began teaching Chemistry at Green River Community College in 1969 and also taught Microbiology for Bellevue Community College beginning in 1970.  When the Affiliated Chemistry position became available, I chose Chemistry instead of Microbiology because it was taught more often in those early days.  Later I taught Chemistry at Bellevue CC, now Bellevue College, and Microbiology for the UW during the Spring quarters--today Organic Chemistry only at Bellevue College.   I am the advisor for two clubs on campus, the Chemistry Club where we do experiments and demonstrations for the campus community, elementary schools, etc., and the Docs and Dents Club where the students learn about careers in Health Science fields.  Presently, I am also the Treasurer of the Puget Sound Section of the American Chemical Society and previously the Chair Elect, Chair and Past Chair.  I am also a professional musician and play the organ for the First United Methodist Church of Renton.  I also taught a 4-H Club called the Teenage Gourmets for 20 years when my own three children were young.  My husband of 45 years and I play bridge in a Gourmet couples Bridge club where we cook food from around the world before we play cards.  The Madame Curie performance began in my chemistry classes in order to encourage my students to enjoy scientific history."

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