Chemistry on the radio – I need your help

So last night I was chatting to an old friend from college who I have not seen for 10 years, and has just moved to Manchester. Not that that was not great in its own right, but more exciting is that she is now a BBC science journalist and just so happened to invite me to chat about chemistry on a science show on BBC Radio Manchester. Me on the radio. Brilliant. I think I might slow down my speech a little, and really try and get the Northern drawl across that has carried Prof. Brian Cox so far.

I have a major problem though, the journalist (@sarahcruddas) is a chemistry sceptic.  Sarah’s background is in physics; she has a degree in physics and astrophysics, and is a self taught astronomer. She is just not convinced that chemistry is as exciting as physics, nor is she convinced that pitching a chemistry programme to the BBC would be met with anything but a resounding no!

So this is where I need your help, I would really like to show Sarah and all the listeners that chemistry is exciting and relevant to everybody, and that science is not just about planets, stars, plants and animals (take note BBC).  To this end, I want to know why you love chemistry, and also your favourite chemistry articles/stories that really highlight the importance of chemistry in our society. Stories can be current, about the future, or historical in nature.

Just tell me why chemistry is so exciting for you!

Entries in the comments section, via email, or twitter @karldcollins, hashtag: #chemistryrocks


11 thoughts on “Chemistry on the radio – I need your help

  1. Just a citation … the former director of my chemistry institute (ICSN) at Gif-sur-Yvette in France, Pierre Potier (Polonovski-Potier reaction, Taxotere(R), Navelbine(R)) said “Chemistry is to biology what solfeggio (music theory) is to music.”

  2. @Karl – This question is so wide-open, you could drive a truck through it…
    “Just tell me why chemistry is so exciting for you!”

    Let’s see, just off the top of my head? Catalytic converters, drug synthesis, the arsenic life controversy, photosynthesis, dyes, polymeric stents, Kevlar, nylon, fluorescent lights, endocrine disruptors, photocatalysis, steroid doping, nutraceuticals, food supplements, carbon sequestration, HIV vaccines, solvochromism.

    And I haven’t even gotten around to what I do for a living!

  3. Without chemistry there would be no physics or astronomy. Atoms & molecules are the substance that physics experiments with, & we – the examiners – are bundles of the same substances. Chemistry is physics in action, made tangible. And biology is a consequence of chemistry. As implied in the prior quote, chemistry is the glue that delivers physics to ourselves in the form of biology, astronomy & materials & engineering. At least that is how this PhD in organic chemistry sees it.

  4. Just to be clear, she is not a chemistry hater and she is a big champion of science all round. Definitely a force for good.

    I am just after great chemistry stories, that make it exciting and tangible for others.

  5. You could use the ignoring of chemistry in the media (percieved or real – doesn’t matter) as a starting point for underlying its importance in the real world.

  6. chemistry is……

    the smell and get up and go of freshly brewed coffee
    the soap that gets us clean
    the toothpaste and mouthwash that freshens our breath
    the rouge on your lips, your finger nails and your eyes
    the colour in our clothes
    the OLED’s in our smart phone, tv and computer screens
    the fuel in our transport
    the paint on our walls
    the pill i take for my headache
    the pill that brought in the sexual revolution
    my asthma inhaler
    the cancer drugs that saves so many lives
    the glass, steel and concrete that built our cities
    lower emission vehicles
    the silicon chip
    the aluminium in our planes
    carbon fibre, kevlar, nanotubes, buckyballs
    the lead in your pencil or ink for that matter
    the low calorie sweetener in your tea
    the dutch courage in your wine, beer or cocktail
    the superhuman strength you posses when in danger
    the stink in your fart. who did that? if you smelt it you dealt it
    the drugs that prevent rejection after organ transplantation
    the fuel for the sun that warms our faces (hopefully sometime soon given the weather so far)
    the A, T, G, C of DNA
    chemistry is life itself

  7. This is easy. Tell them we live in a very cold place. Most metals are frozen solid. We have about us thermal energy of a minuscule 3 kJ, and we have liquid water. In this environment chemical bonds happen and chemistry and life thrives.

    In contrast Physics is interested in all energies. Not much chemistry on the Sun. Nothing much in fact below a 1000 degrees or so. So if you are interested in the Big Bang Theory, or how electrons and particles precipitate out of quantum fields as the temperature drops, then physics is great.

    Chemistry however is in that narrow range of energy where we live.

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