The right chemistry


On the train home last night I was directed to an article in The Guardian about the state of chemistry and physics education in the UK. (It’s a shame that the picture accompanying the online version is nowhere near as amusing as the one in the actual newspaper – it was your stereotypical wild-hair crazy-professor type, complete with labcoat, standing in front of a blackboard covered with chemical structures and even the mechanism of ester hydrolysis… base-catalysed just in case you were wondering).

One of my favourite passages is the following:

Add to the old stereotypes new ones about shortening attention spans and a rise in the need for instant gratification and it starts to look as if, while sticking a splint in a bunsen burner or watching magnesium combust might have swung things in the old days, these days it just won’t do.

I wonder if I’d had an XBOX whether I would have been so excited about a bit of sodium whizzing around in a beaker of water; all those flame tests with different colours probably wouldn’t have been all that captivating either…

If you have a few minutes to spare, go and have a read and ponder on who should be the Jamie Oliver (link included for the last few people on Earth who don’t know who this is) of chemistry?!


Stuart Cantrill (Associate Editor, Nature Nanotechnology)

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