16 July 2012 Review
Chemistry in theatre: insufficiency, phallacy or both
I do like the bottle of champagne on the cover. Mouth watering, isn’t it? The first of this month’s features is about the chemistry of champagne (see p42), exploring the intricate relationships between taste and aroma and the role that bubbles play, and so we thought it was an excellent choice.
Champagne, bubbles and bubbleology are also at the heart of Carl Djerassi’s latest book, Chemistry in theatre: Insufficiency, phallacy or both. He is someone we’ve mentioned many times before in Chemistry World, but for those who may not have heard of him I should say that although he is best known as the father of the contraceptive pill (see Chemistry World, September 2010, p56), he is also an accomplished and prolific writer. The reason I mention this is because I recently had the pleasure of attending a dramatic reading of Insufficiency organised by the chemistry department at the University of Cambridge, UK. Interestingly, the play deals with actual (rather than invented) chemistry – the science of bubbleology – and it does this in a non-didactic way, allowing the author to exploit all the dramatic tools at his disposal and succeed at keeping the audience enthralled for an hour and a half: there is murder, a wedding and a court case, and plenty of envy, ambition and back-stabbing to go round.
Chemists everywhere will very much enjoy the play as it dramatises issues from the world of academia that many of us will immediately recognise and identify with. Besides, rather refreshingly, ‘chemists play key roles as chemists rather than as the proverbial nerds of Frankensteins’ and, ‘even the terrain itself, locationally as well as thematically, is chemical’. However, this should not put non-chemists off: the play is humorous, fast paced and wholly unexpected and should certainly entertain a non-specialist audience.
‘Come quickly, I’m drinking the stars!’ shouted Dom Pérignon on first tasting sparkling champagne. We have reason to celebrate this month so we would like to invite you to drink the stars with us (if only metaphorically).
Following the redesign of the print magazine that took place at the beginning of the year, we have been revamping our website and the first part of the work has now been completed. We’ve not only updated the look and feel – if you are a habitual online reader you’ll notice quite a significant change – but we’ve also improved the navigation so finding relevant or the latest content will be easier than ever. Additionally, the content management system has been dramatically transformed and, although you won’t be able to directly experience this, the efficiencies we’ve made to our processes mean that we’ll be able to publish even more content but, more importantly, more quickly. We’ve also added extra functionality to the site (and there is more to come!) so from now on, for example, you’ll be able to leave comments and also read other people’s. The team here is really excited about all these developments and we are all looking forward to some lively and fascinating debate on our pages.
Bibiana Campos Seijo, editor
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