In the interest of getting chemists involved in the current phenomenon of reality TV, I have a few ideas of new shows that some silly network can use (although, on the off chance that they do, I’m claiming rights…)
Idea #1: Along the lines of Iron Chef (or really any competition show), there should be a chemistry showdown. Each chemist would be given a lump of coal and all the reagents, catalysts, glassware, etc. they want. Then, the first person who can get an NMR of a target molecule wins a prize. (A postdoc fellowship? Travel reimbursement for that conference in Greece? The use of a grant writer for that next R01? An R01?? (Maybe that’s the grand prize)) Of course, the molecule can’t be too complicated, as otherwise the show would potentially never end. The show could feature theme weeks, where instead of having eel or artichoke as the ingredient you must include, the chemists would be given morpholine, or undecanoic acid, or julolidine hydrobromide and have to work those molecules into the final product somehow. Alternatively, again given a certain starting molecule, the chemists could create as many distinct molecules as possible within a given time limit.
I think this would allow returning chemists to develop a big following, as viewers would get to know the chemists and what their preferences are for reactions and reagents (such as ‘oh, he’s reaching again for the osmium tetroxide! He does love to oxidize things.‘ or ’It looks like… yes! She is doing a Michael addition. What a clever use of the double bond.’ …)
What do you guys think? Would you watch?
Catherine (associate editor, Nature Chemical Biology)