Spice, Sex and Science: History Through the Eyes of a Chemist

Khanh Lam (Tina) Tao
Meeting Days/Times: 
Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.

Why are peppers spicy? Did you know that the male and female sex hormones are almost identical in their chemical structures? What do TNT and sunscreen have in common? To answer these questions, we will take a look at the molecules that make up the everyday world. These molecules have shaped history, started wars, and made some great meals. In this seminar, we will also come to a better understanding of how much chemistry influences us and how to think scientifically about these interesting questions. In an age where chemicals are often misunderstood (products labeled “chemical-free!”), we will learn what roles they play in our everyday lives. Students will learn the research skills necessary to tell the story of a molecule, tracing out its chemical nature and its impact on history, as well as general and basic organic chemistry concepts. No prior knowledge of chemistry is required.