International Year of Chemistry, as declared by UNESCO and IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry). This year we'll celebrate chemistry and how it has improved the lot of humankind under the theme of "Chemistry - our life, our future".
2011 was chosen as it has been 100 years since Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for "[for] the discovery of the elements radium and polonium, by the isolation of radium and the study of the nature and compounds of this remarkable element", so we're also celebrating the role of women in chemistry. (She also win a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 with her husband, Pierre Curie, for their research on radiation. Check out this link to see all the Nobel prizes awarded for chemistry. Interesting reading!)
The Disappearing Spoon or one of Joe Schwarcz's books and learn more about the every day chemistry in your life. Learn more about a chemist from your home town like Charlotte Froese Fischer (who resided in Chilliwack, and writes about her youth here).
I think we should take this year as an opportunity to show that chemistry is more than blowing stuff up (which is what the boys in my youth group think) or making the world a more horrible place. I think one of the best ways to celebrate the International Year of Chemistry is to take it upon ourselves to help educate those who don't know how much fun chemistry can be! Teach just one person how much fun it is to make a lotion or shampoo or enlighten one person who thinks "chemical free" is a valid concept and we're that much closer to a more science literate society!
Yay for the International Year of Chemistry!