The days of wine and cheeses

This month’s issue of Wired magazine has two stories that have to do with chemistry – there’s an article on the chemistry of cream cheese, which contains the following (choice) quote:

[John] Lucey is an associate professor of food science at the university and runs the cream cheese program. Born in Ireland, he came to Wisconsin for a professorship after making his name in yogurt research in Europe. [emphasis added]

For those of you who are interested in learning more about the field, you might want to check out a recent review article by Johnson & Lucey entitled “”">Major technological advances and trends in cheese."

There’s also a story on the challenges of DIY chemistry in the post-9/11 world – it even has a few experiments to get you started (including how to make a stink bomb from wooden safety matches and household ammonia…) Though I’m not entirely sure the EPA would recommend this (after performing the “Lavalicious” experiment): “Transfer the chromium oxide to the widemouthed jar, seal, and discard.”

This part of the article is a bit alarming/depressing:

More than half of the suggested experiments in a multimedia package for schools called “You Be the Chemist,” created in 2004 by the Chemical Educational Foundation, are to be performed by the teacher alone, leaving students to blow up balloons (with safety goggles in place) or answer questions like “How many pretzels can you eat in a minute?" … “We want to give kids lessons that tie in to their real-world experiences without having them deal with a lot of strange chemicals in bottles that have big long names.”

This might explain why the number of B.Sc. chemists has been steadily decreasing since the mid-90s


Joshua Finkelstein (Associate Editor, Nature)