Reactions – One year old today!

As you will have noticed, today is Friday, and that brings with it a new Reactions piece to the Sceptical Chymist – but this one will be slightly different to the previous 52. That’s right, we’ve racked up a whole year’s worth, and so ‘Reactions’ is celebrating its first birthday!

Apart from finding out what people would want to be if not chemists, one of my favourite things is finding out who they would invite to dinner. A quick survey of the last year shows that the most popular dinner guest is Leonardo da Vinci (with 5 votes). Following on closely is Jesus (4 votes), then Feynman, Einstein, Darwin and Mozart were popular choices (each with 3 votes). Isaac Newton and Nelson Mandela were each picked twice and it’s worth noting that a few US presidents made the cut, John Adams and Abraham Lincoln – and although nobody thought to invite John F. Kennedy, his brother Robert was. Have a surf through the older entries – it’s quite interesting. I would suggest that the strangest choice was made by Mark Green

So, at this point, I want to ask you – the readers – some questions. Please leave your responses as comments to this post, and I encourage all of you to join in.

Should the questions change?

‘Reactions’ will continue, but we wonder if some of the questions are wearing a bit thin at this point – our least favourite is probably number 3, ‘how can chemists best contribute to the world at large?’ because most people say the same sort of things… Of the other questions we currently use, are there some that you really like (or dislike) and if so, why? Do you have suggestions for other questions that you would like to see us asking?

Who would you like to see featured?

As has been commented on, it’s obvious that there are a lot more male than female chemists featured in the ‘Reactions’ series. I don’t know the total numbers of chemists that we’ve asked to participate, or the gender breakdown of those, but the only criterion we have in terms of who gets featured, is those that say ‘yes’. A very large number of ‘Reactions’ e-mails go unanswered, and a lot of people do say ‘no’. I would imagine we have asked more men than women, but not in the proportions ultimately featured on the blog.

If you have any suggestions of who you would like to see featured, either in terms of subject area, or specific chemists, we’ll see what we can do. Again, however, there is no guarantee someone will agree to be featured.

Normal service will be resumed next week, Ben List, who has just had a paper published in Nature, will be answering the current set of six questions.


Stuart Cantrill (Chief Editor, Nature Chemistry)