Taking solace in synthesis?

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Reading my newspaper on the way to work this morning, I was surprised to discover that Jonny Wilkinson – England rugby hero for those that don’t know – likes a bit of quantum physics. Apparently, he was always full of self-doubt until he discovered Schrödinger’s cat!

I subscribe to the theory that if you claim to fully understand quantum physics then you’ve missed the point, so quite what he means by this you’ll have to find out in his new book, but it set me to thinking: does anyone take solace in chemistry? Personally, I like a good total synthesis, but it’s more likely to make me wonder if I could ever have come up with that particularly clever rearrangement or new methodology, than to solve any thoughts of inadequacy.

Do you have a favourite piece of chemistry to think about when you need a bit of reassurance? How about some chemical reaction dynamics (Gav?), or perhaps you enjoy a good crystallography table (Neil?). We’d love to hear from you.


Stephen Davey (Associate Editor, Nature Chemistry)

Stephen Davey

Chief Editor, Nature Reviews Chemistry, Springer Nature

Stephen holds a PhD in chemistry from the University of Sheffield where he conducted research on asymmetric nucleophilic catalysis. He then moved to Groningen, Netherlands for postdoctoral research on the synthesis and applications of light-driven molecular motors. He has been a chemistry editor for 12 years. He began his editorial career with the Royal Society of Chemistry (working on the journals Lab on a Chip and the Journal of Environmental Monitoring). In 2008 he joined the launch team of Nature Chemistry and later that year moved to Boston, USA where he stayed until the end of 2015. Shortly after returning to London he moved jobs to become Chief Editor for Nature Reviews Chemistry, which launched in 2017.