This week we remember chemist Mario Molina, who passed away earlier this month. Hailed as “one of the single most important contributors to climate protection in world history,” his research on the damaging effects of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) on the ozone layer earned him and his colleagues a 1995 Nobel Prize. In addition to reading Molina’s biography, you can also listen to a Distillations podcast episode on the Antarctic ozone hole that includes excerpts from his 2013 oral history interview. And if you’re looking to take a deep dive into the role science education plays in shaping great scientists like Mario Molina, space is still available for our two-day “Pedagogy, Popularization, and the Public Understanding of Science” virtual conference being held October 22–23.
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
1:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m. EDT
Allen Driggers, assistant professor of history at Tennessee Tech University, presents this week’s virtual Lunchtime Lecture. His talk will focus on the work of Francis Peyre Porcher, a 19th-century physician who believed that the increased knowledge of the medicinal uses of plants could improve medical care and raise economic fortunes.
Detail of Monsanto Hall of Chemistry pamphlet cover, 1955. 📷 Science History Institute
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Friday, October 23, 2020
9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. EDT
The fellows of the Institutes Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry will host a two-day graduate and early-career virtual conference on science education, science popularization, and their histories. Our keynote speakers will be John Rudolph, department chair of curriculum and instruction at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Kathryn Olesko, associate professor for the School of Foreign Service and the history department of Georgetown University.
Monday, October 26, 2020
7:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m. EDT
Science on Tap continues its wildly popular “Untapped at Home Netflix Party” movie screening and live chat. This month we’ll be watching Poltergeist with Mütter Museum curator Anna Dhody, who’s never seen the 1982 supernatural film! This is a free event, but preregistration is required as Netflix Party limits the number of attendees for each session.
Thursday, October 29, 2020
5:30 p.m.–6:30 p.m. EDT
Spend an evening immersed in Atalanta Fugiens, one of the strangest and most mysterious books in our library. Hear from former Institute fellows Donna Bilak and Tara Nummedal, who have reimagined this remarkable book in multimedia form as Furnace and Fugue, a digital critical edition that allows contemporary readers to hear, see, manipulate, and investigate it in ways that were impossible to realize in full before now. Presented as part of our Fellow in Focus Lecture series, this virtual program will also include performances of the music from the book.
Adelie penguins on an iceberg in Antarctica. 📷 Wikimedia Commons
For more than a century ozone therapy has been a source of false hope for the sick and ill-gotten gains for the crooked.

Mario Molina (left) and F. Sherwood Rowland at UC Irvine, January 1975. 📷 University of California, Irvine
As a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Irvine, Mexican chemist Mario Molina (1943–2020) noticed that chlorofluorocarbons—better known as CFCs—had the potential of destroying the Earths protective ozone layer. This discovery proved true, earning him a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995, which he shared with his mentor, Frank Sherwood Rowland, and Dutch scientist Paul Crutzen. Molina, who has been called “one of the single most important contributors to climate protection in world history,” passed away on October 7, 2020, at the age of 77.

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Visit sciencehistory.org/learn and discover the stories of science. Resources and activities include virtual exhibitions, role-playing games for students, and Zoom backgrounds to download for your next online meeting. Comments, suggestions, or questions? Contact us at enews@sciencehistory.org