The 7th International Conference on History of Chemistry <>

Consumers and Experts: The Uses of Chemistry (and Alchemy)

2-5 August 2009 Sopron (Hungary)

(First Circular)

The 7th ICHC and the 23rd ICHST

The Working Party (WP) on History of Chemistry of the European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences (EuCheMS) will hold its bi-annual International Conference on History of Chemistry (7th ICHC) in Sopron, Hungary, from 2 – 5 August 2009.

From 28 July to 2 August 2009 the 23rd International Congress of History of Science and Technology (23rd ICHST) will be held in Budapest, Hungary. At this Congress hundreds of historians of science and technology will meet around the central congress theme ‘Ideas and Instruments in Social Context.’ During the Congress the Commission for the History of Modern Chemistry will organize a 1 day symposium on ‘Chemistry in the Aftermath of World Wars.’ There will be also other sessions on the history of chemistry (see: <> ). Historians of chemistry therefore have the interesting option of visiting both major events during one visit to Hungary.

The 7th ICHC will focus on the theme of “the uses of chemistry (and alchemy)”, which covers both the practical uses of chemistry and the cultural consumption of chemistry. A major aim of the conferences organised by the WP is to facilitate communication between historically interested chemists and historians of chemistry from all over Europe. Previous conferences organised by the Working Party were held in Budapest in September 2003 (“Communication in Chemistry in Europe”), Lisbon in September 2005 (“Chemistry, Technology and Society”) and Leuven in August 2007 (“Neighbours and Territories: The Evolving Identity of Chemistry”).

Main Topic: “Consumers and Experts: The Uses of Chemistry (and Alchemy)”

There is a growing trend in the history of technology to examine the development and use of new technology from the user’s (or consumer’s) point of view rather than that of the innovator or producer which has hitherto been the predominant standpoint in that field. This shift in perspective can be particularly valuable for the history of chemistry since chemistry has always been seen as the supremely useful science. Its great utility has been praised for many centuries, whether it be to make gold for princes in the sixteenth century, improving crop yields in the nineteenth century or producing nanomaterials for the aerospace industry in the twenty-first century. It was supported because it was considered to underpin industry, agriculture and medicine. The social impact of chemistry has been considerable, helping to provide clean water and wholesome food, improved housing, and to increase the food supply in the face of a rapidly growing population. Less positively, chemistry has also been used in war, from explosives (and the fixed nitrogen needed to produce them) and poison gases to synthetic petrol and rubber. But the uses of chemistry go beyond the purely practical. Lecturers have made money from chemistry by giving courses on the subject both in universities and to the public at large. Chemistry has also been a major theme in international exhibitions and museums. The expertise of chemists has been used by lawyers to win patent disputes and murder trials, and by governments to develop policy. The uses of chemistry is a topic which branches out from the history of chemistry and alchemy to many other areas, ranging from the history of the chemical industry and pharmacy to the history of medicine, business and economic history, legal history, social history and cultural studies, and museums and the study of material culture. This conference aims at a better understanding of the different ways chemistry and alchemy have been “consumed” in countless ways over the last six or seven hundred years. It also seeks to explore how the consumers of chemicals and chemists were created in their social and economic context. For instance, how did firms generate a demand for their products? The range of potential topics is enormous but it is important in the framework of this conference that these topics should be discussed in terms of the viewpoint of the user or consumer.

Topics and Subtopics

These topics and subtopics overlap considerably and are only suggestions. Potential speakers should simply use this schema to check if their proposed topic is suitable. The actual organisation of the papers at the conference will depend on the number and types of papers submitted and the interconnections between them.

1. Using Chemistry

a) Creation of wealth either directly as in alchemy or through selling the products of chemistry

b) Chemistry in the media – newspapers, radio, television

c) Chemistry in trade exhibitions (including international exhibitions and World Fairs) and museums

d) Polemical use of the value of chemistry to promote chemistry, chemicals or scientific progress

e) Medicine – making drugs or by increasing understanding of biological processes

f) Agriculture – increased understanding of plant growth and nutrition, development of fertilisers and pesticides

g) Gas and coal industry – use of chemistry to improve processes and use waste products

h) Food, drink and brewing – improving craft-based practices, introducing new methods, food analysis and prevention of adulteration

i) Use of chemistry in universities (e.g. to modernise medicine) and in university education

j) Public lectures and entertainments

k) Books and magazines – both professional and popular

2. Using Chemicals

a) Use of chemicals by the public – chemistry sets, household uses (and the decline of such uses), perhaps even misuse (e.g. inhalation, making terrorist devices)

b) Impact of chemicals on the environment – using chemicals to make a point about environmental degradation

c) Chemicals as historical objects – collections of chemicals in museums, universities and industrial archives

d) Chemical industry – as intermediates for other chemicals and for end-products (dyes, agrochemicals, plastics, fibres etc)

e) Fertiliser industry – using chemicals to make fertilisers (e.g. making superphosphate) and chemicals as fertilisers (e.g. ammonium nitrate and urea)

f) Pharmaceutical industry – to extract natural drugs and as intermediates for synthetic drugs (or directly as drugs, e.g. chloroform)

g) Cosmetic, soap and detergent industries

h) Food and drink industries – use of adulterants, introduction of useful chemicals into foods and synthetic food products (e.g. sweeteners)

i) Other industries (e.g. metals, matches, ceramics, glass, sugar)

j) Government and military – explosives, war gases, strategic materials (light metals, synthetic petrol, synthetic rubber)

3. Using Chemists

a) Law – expert witnesses, patent agents, patent lawyers, judges

b) Media – use of chemists by the media, chemists working in the media

c) Government – state patronage of alchemy, state laboratories, tax authorities, defence laboratories, police and interior ministries, civil service, policy advisors, politicians

d) Military – active service (e.g. Royal Engineers), munitions advisors, chemical warfare advisors

e) Museums and art galleries – curators, conservators, directors, advisors

f) International and non-governmental organisations, charities

g) By historians – uses of prosopography and the value of biographies

h) Academia – teaching (including other subjects such as medicine or metallurgy as well as chemistry), research, libraries, administration

i) Schools – teaching, administration

j) Chemical industry – research and development, analysis, quality control, process supervision, patent advisors, sales and marketing, as leaders of the firm, consultants

k) Other industries – analysis, consultants, non-chemical positions

l) Environmental protection – solving environmental problems, pollution analysis

Call for papers

The Programme Committee welcomes proposals for individual papers of twenty minutes duration or sessions (chair and 3 or 4 papers) from historians and chemists, graduate students and independent researchers. Both paper and poster sessions are planned. The proposals submitted will be considered by the committee for both types of sessions as appropriate.

Proposals for individual papers must include a one-page summary (maximum 500 words) outlining both the content and the argument of the proposed paper, and a one-page CV, including current postal and e-mail addresses.

Proposals for complete sessions must include a description of the session that explains how individual papers contribute to an overall theme (maximum 400 words), the names and paper titles of the presenters. Each presenter belonging to the session also has to submit a one-page summary (maximum 500 words) outlining both the content and the argument of the proposed paper, and for the chair and each presenter a one-page CV, with postal and e-mail addresses.

All proposals should be submitted via the online registration system of the Conference. After submission the file of proposal in MS Word document format (or if necessary in RTF format) can be uploaded to the system. All data will be stored in the web database so applicants can control them whenever they want it.

All proposals must be single-spaced, left-aligned (including the title) and in Times New Roman, font size 12 points. The margins of the A4 page should be 30 mm (1.2 inches) all round. The title should be all caps and in bold, followed by a blank line by the speakers’ names and their affiliation, and their email addresses in round brackets, and after another blank line by the summary. Paragraphs should not be indented but separated by blank lines. Pictures must not be used. Equations and graphics should be avoided but if used should be inserted into the main text . References should be avoided, but if used should be in 11 point font in Chicago Manual style (see, for example, the Ambix webpage for details).

If there are any problems with uploading your abstract, then please send it as an attached MS Word document (or if necessary in RTF format) at [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]> , sending a separate email at the same time to inform the chair that the proposal has been emailed (in case the proposal is caught in a firewall).

The deadline for all submissions is 15 January 2009

Applicants will be informed of the results of the selection process by 15 March 2009

For any queries relating to the academic programme, please contact the programme committee chair, Peter Morris, at [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]> .

For any queries relating to the local arrangements, please contact the local committee chair, Éva Vámos, at [email protected] <> , or the Hungarian Chemical Society (MKE), Ms. Andrea Kis-Menyhárt, e-mail: [email protected] <> ; H-1027 Budapest Fö u. 68

tel.: +36 1 201 6883; fax: +36 1 201 8056


Programme Committee Peter MORRIS, Science Museum, London, United Kingdom (chair). Members: Marco BERETTA, Università di Bologna, Italy. José Ramón BERTOMEU-SÁNCHEZ, Universitat de València, Spain Hjalmar FORS, Kungliga Tekniska Hogskolan, Stockholm, Sweden Ernst HOMBURG, Universiteit Maastricht, Netherlands Ursula KLEIN, Max Planck Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Berlin, Germany. Laurence LESTEL, Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, Paris, France. Gabor PALLO, Institute for Philosophical Research, Institute for Research Organization, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary Carsten REINHARDT, Universität Bielefeld, Germany. Ana SIMOES, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal. Sona STRBÁNOVÁ, Ústav pro soudobé dejiny, Akademie ved Ceské republiky, Prague, Czech Republic. Brigitte Van TIGGELEN, Université catholique de Louvain, Mémosciences asbl, Belgium. Eva VAMOS, Országos Muszaki Múzeum, Budapest, Hungary Elena ZAITSEVA, Moskovskiy Gosudarstvenny Universitet, Khimicheskiy Fakultet, Russia

Local Organizing Committee Éva VÁMOS, Hungarian Museum for Science and Technology (chair) Members: Beata ANDROSITS, Hungarian Chemical Society (co-chair) Ilona BUZÁS, Technical University Budapest György LIPTAY, Hungarian Chemical Society Andrea KIS-MENYHÁRT, Hungarian Chemical Society István PRÓDER, Hungarian Chemical Museum Lívia SARKADY, Technical University, Budapest Péter TÖMPE, EGIS Ltd. Katalin VARGA-NYÁRI Hungarian Chemical Museum

Location and Schedule

The Conference will be held in Hotel Sopron (H-9400 Sopron, Fövényverem utca 7) ( <> ). Hotel Sopron uses the slogan “Window to the town” to emphasize the unsurpassed view over the historical downtown. The hotel is situated only 3-4 minutes from the city-center.

Schedule of the conference, 2-5 August 2009

Wednesday, 2


Arrivals and registration at Hotel Sopron;


Welcome reception

Thursday, 3

9:00 – 17:30

Plenary lectures and thematic sessions, Hotel Sopron

Friday, 4

9:00 – 17:30

Plenary lectures and thematic sessions, Hotel Sopron;


General Meeting of the Working Party on the History of Chemistry

Conference dinner

Saturday, 5

9:00 – 18:00

Excursion (optional)


English will be the conference language. No interpretation will be provided.

Conference website: <>

Registration and conference fees


Registration will take place via the conference website, in the online system: <>

Conference fee

Before 1 June 2009

After 1 June 2009


Participation fee

EUR 230.00

EUR 300.00

EUR 350.00

Accompanying person

EUR 150.00

EUR 220.00

EUR 250.00

The participation fee includes: welcome reception, coffee breaks, lunches, one dinner, printed programme, list of participants, and book of abstracts. The fee does not include the conference dinner on 4 August (EUR50.00), nor the excursion on Saturday 5 August .

The fee for Accompanying persons includes welcome reception, lunches, one dinner.

Accommodation in Hotel Sopron (H-9400 Sopron, Fövényverem utca 7.)

accommodation (single room/night) EUR 70

accommodation (double room/night) EUR 90

Breakfast is included in the hotel fee.


Payment of the registration fee should be made without charges to the beneficiary, preferably before June 15, 2009.

Payments can be made either by credit card through the secure on-line registration system or by bank (wire) transfer. In case of bank transfer, please use the following data:

Bank address: CIB Bank Zrt., 1027 Budapest, Medve u. 4-14.

Account number: 10700024-24764207-51100005

IBAN number: HU16 10700024-24764207-51100005

Swift code: CIBHHUHB

Reference: MKE CHEMHIST 2009/3002

Owner of the account: Hungarian Chemical Society Tax number: 19815819-2-4

Cancellation policy

Refund requests can be submitted to the Conference Secretariat. 50% refund can be granted if notification of cancellation has reached the conference secretariat before July 1, 2009. No refunds can be granted after this date. Refunds will be processed after the conference.

For further information, please see conference website <> or contact the Hungarian Chemical Society at [email protected] <> .

Important Deadlines

Submission of abstracts 15 January 2009

Notification of acceptance 15 March 2009

Registration at reduced registration fee 1 June 2009

Preferred deadline for paying the fees 15 June 2009