Field of Science

Writing in Santa Fe

In about 8 hours, I should be taking off for Santa Fe and the 2008 Santa Fe Science Writing Workshop. I'm bringing some of the work I've done on the blog, trying to shape a longer and coherent narrative. There are about 40 students coming - from a range of backgrounds. Scientists, journalists, students. My instructor will be Laura Helmuth - the science editor for the Smithsonian.

How to tell if you're really a chemist

You pronounce unionized as UN-ionized not union-ized.
When you hear the word mole, you don't think of an animal.
Milli is a prefix, not a girl's name.

This Sceptical Chemist blog post suggests a new test to tell if you're really a chemist. What do you see when you look at this illustration by Joon Mo Kang? If the first things you see are five bonds to carbon, and three bonds to a hydrogen, you're a chemist. If that's all you see - you are really a chemist.

A couple of chemists missed the point of the illustration so completely they wrote to the NY Times to let them know of their chemical illiteracy. Another blogger was also vexed by the nonsensical molecule.

I'll admit it -- I saw five bonds.