Southern Nevada Section

Feb. 2012, Life Without Chemistry

This was a thought provoking talk that covered many common mistakes the non-chemists of the world are making about how the world works.  Dr. Pavlath's talk showed what the world would be like if there was no understanding of chemistry.  His punch line, "we would be back in the stoneage."   The talk was thought provoking in two ways.  It showed how strange some people's beliefs are and how to deal with them.


"Life Without Chemistry? We Would Be Back in the Stone Age!"
Dr. Attila Pavlath

Past ACS President (2001)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

5:30 PM Reception and Refreshments, 6:00 PM Presentation

US EPA Auditorium

944 East Harmon Ave.

Las Vegas, Nevada 89119


Visitors are Welcome


Abstract: Can you name one material benefit in your life, which is not the result of chemistry? We take for granted such materials as aluminum, but this metal was very expensive until it was made relatively cheaply from its ore only by a long and difficult invention process in the 1880s. Imagine the streets piled high with transportation animal waste if we were still in the horse and buggy age. There are hundreds of other examples, but the media only reports about the results of chemistry when it is claimed to be the cause of some health or environmental problems. Chemistry, as with all human endeavors, is not without its problems. However, the betterment of the human condition due to advances in chemistry, and the products which result, vastly overwhelms the negative issues. Chemists actively work to overcome problems and come up with solutions to make life better. One cannot live a day without chemistry and the many improvements it has provided. One hundred and fifty years ago, 70% of the US labor force provided food for our population. Today, through advances in mechanization, genetic development of plants, and fertilizer and pesticide chemistry, only 2% of the population does the work to feed the rest. Automobiles, airplanes, and space vehicles could not have been developed without many advances in materials, fuel chemistry and processing, and computer applications. Penicillin, contraceptives, and anti-cancer compounds make our lives longer and more pleasant. The lecture will list some of the most important developments in four major areas: Energy and Transportation, Information and Communication, Health and Medicine, and Food and Agriculture. The speaker will describe what you can and should do to overcome the negative picture that is frequently painted for chemistry. This is a must, because without the support of the population, Industry will shy away from and Government will create regulations handicapping domestic research and development. Loss of jobs and a declining economy will create further problems.

Biography: Dr. Pavlath is an Emeritus Senior Scientist at the Western Regional Research Center in Albany, California. He obtained all his education in Hungary at the Technical University of Budapest before he left Hungary in 1956. He has a career of 60 years in chemistry. He is an internationally known scientist. Dr. Pavlath has published extensively during his long distinguished scientific career. In addition to his 130+ publications, he holds 25 patents. For the most recent two, he has received from the Secretary of Agriculture USDA’s Technology Transfer Award for carrying out his research from the laboratory to commercial applications. He has written books, two of them are ACS Monographs. He received numerous invitations and lectured regularly both abroad and domestically at various meetings, including 178 of the 189 Local Sections. He received the American Institute Chemical Pioneer Award and was recently elected to the Hungarian Academy of Science.


Dr. Pavlath does not need introduction concerning his involvement in the ACS. For 40+ years of ACS activities, including the ACS Presidency, he was a selfless promoter of "better life for chemists through ACS". During these years, working on the principle that chemistry is done by human beings with human needs, he continuously promoted the idea of assuring an atmosphere in the workplace, especially in the industry, conducive to creativity. For many years, but especially during the last few, Dr. Pavlath also worked to improve the public image of chemistry and K-12 science education both domestically and abroad. He conducted various studies and developed activities for this purpose. He had the Technology Milestones Exhibit, created during his Presidency, converted to an easily displayable form, which is distributed to the chemical societies throughout the world for translation to 30+ languages. It was also found as an efficient educational tool in high schools.