Montana State University

Lecture on cars, chemistry set for April 9 at MSU

March 30, 2009 -- From MSU News Service

Richard N. Zare will speak April 9 at Montana State University.   High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
BOZEMAN -- A free public lecture on the close relationship between cars and chemistry will be given Thursday, April 9, at Montana State University.

Richard N. Zare, the Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professor in Natural Science at Stanford University, will give the lecture, titled "Cars: Chemistry in Motion," at 7 p.m. in the Hager Auditorium of MSU's Museum of the Rockies. A coffee and dessert reception will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the museum's Bair Lobby.

"When it comes to getting from here to there, chemistry is essential, whether it be a trip to the local store to buy groceries or a shot into space to explore the universe," Zare said. "Cars, for example, are truly chemistry in motion. Today's automobile relies heavily upon chemical industry innovations to enhance performance, to provide safety for its occupants, and to deliver fuel efficiency.

"On average, each car contains nearly $2,000 worth of chemical processing and products," Zare continued. "These items range from its scratch-resistant paint job, to its often lightweight plastic-molded frame, to its shatter-resistant polyvinyl butyral-layered windshield, to its soft polyurethane seat cushions, to its neoprene hoses, brake fluids, sealants, adhesives and coolants, to its chemically powered airbags, to its styrene-butadiene tires with added stabilizers and antioxidants. Chemistry really keeps America moving."

Chemistry also addresses the environmental issues associated with automobile transportation, including the challenge of cutting carbon dioxide emissions, but more needs to be done, Zare said.

Zare is known for his laser chemistry research, which resulted in a greater understanding of chemical reactions at the molecular level. He has made seminal contributions to the knowledge of molecular collision processes, which helped solve a variety of problems in chemical analysis. His development of laser-induced fluorescence has been widely adopted in other laboratories.

Zare's lecture is sponsored by MSU's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and EPSCoR. For more information, contact MSU chemistry professor Tim Minton at (406) 994-5394 or

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or