Chemistry Center ignites celebration of science

By Carol Clark | eScienceCommons | Sept. 29, 2015

Emory celebrated the grand opening of the Chemistry Center addition with a "ribbon immolation" on Saturday, Sept. 26. Video by Carol Clark. Photo by Tony Benner.

“Why do I have a garbage can full of liquid nitrogen? Because I’m a chemist,” Doug Mulford, director of undergraduate education for Emory’s Department of Chemistry, told a crowd of enthralled children and adults.

Decked out in safety glasses and a red lab coat printed with flames, Mulford conducted a ribbon immolation ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 26, to officially open Emory’s Sanford S. Atwood Chemistry Center addition. The crowd gasped and cheered in the courtyard as Mulford ignited a thermite reaction, a pyrotechnic mixture of aluminum and iron oxide. The reaction shot off sparks and smoking-hot globules of molten iron to sever the ceremonial ribbon.

Rain did not dampen anyone’s enthusiasm for the grand opening, which included fun science demonstrations by students from chemistry, biology and physics.

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