Welcome to the New Year and a new look for the Canadian Chemical News (ACCN). In addition to an enhanced, cleaner design, we’ve added a new column, Policy Pundit, penned by science writer Peter Calamai of Ottawa. A long-time contributor to ACCN, Calamai has also been a science reporter for The Toronto Star and is currently an adjunct research professor at Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication. The mandate of the column — interviewing top Canadian scientists, policymakers, elected officials, thinkers and iconoclasts — is meant to engage you on a level that reaches beyond the limits of straightforward science reporting. In these fractious and divisive times, Canadian scientists are increasingly stepping outside the laboratory into the public policy arena. The column provides access to a host of people whose work normally wouldn’t be featured in ACCN, but whose thoughts and insights will fuel discussion on the topic of science and its relationship to society.

In addition to the new column and design, ACCN offers the usual cornucopia of chemistry features and news stories, as well as essays from our regular columnists. Contributing editor Tyler Hamilton takes a fascinating look at the acceleration in boron nitride nanotube innovation, thanks in part to National Research Council of Canada scientists. Boron nitride nanotubes hold enormous promise for the enhanced manufacture of strong but exceptionally light parts for cars, airplanes and spaceships.

When news editor Tim Lougheed first floated the idea about a story on helium, we wondered if it would fly. It does — quite nicely in fact — providing a comprehensive look at this rarified and rare element, which is increasing in importance in a variety of sectors such as the hybrid aircraft industry. Helium is also integral to magnetic resonance imaging, where it maintains the ultra-low temperatures required by superconductors, which in turn create powerful magnetic fields that generate images of the human body for precise medical diagnosis.

If you get an itch while reading “Bug Patrol,” our apologies. This feature explores how natural products chemistry is providing solutions to the growing scourge of pesticide- resistant creepy crawlies like bed bugs and spider mites, which cause not only human misery but billions of dollars worth of crop damage every year.

Last but not least, Chemical News presents the latest innovations in the chemistry and chemical engineering sectors. From preventing dangerous blood clotting during battlefield medical procedures, to the oxidation states of metal iridium, to a surprise discovery by Canada’s SCISAT satellite that hydrochloric acid levels are increasing in the northern stratosphere, these news items are informative and engrossing.

Hope you have a great start to 2015!