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Vol. 31 No. 3
May-June 2009

From the Editor

Scientific method and public appreciation of chemistry . . . the subject was tantalizing for David Evans, a recurrent contributor to Chemistry International. Fortunately for us, Evans didn’t shy away—see his article here. He is passionate, even relentless, over this topic. Admittedly, for those of us who share a scientific culture—by practicing science or simply having an interest and curiosity about scientific clues and methods—it is at times difficult to comprehend that for many people, science—including chemistry—is more often fiction than fact.

image of Fabienne MeyersEvans reminds us that public appreciation of chemistry varies greatly from place to place, and that there is no magic recipe for arousing everyone’s interest and appreciation. Culture and education are also variables to the problem. Evans believes, however, that scientific method applied simply in various contexts can facilitate constructive dialog regarding contentious issues. I take his account as an invitation to talk to our friends, and in particular to nonscientists, and challenge them (gently) on their unsubstantiated beliefs. I notice Evans’ enthusiasm to speak up and his incitation to all of us to add our voices to the public debate by writing to our local newspapers and exploring new ways of communication, including blogs and chat rooms, to share our interests. Evans’ argument is fueled by Ben Goldacre’s advice: “To academics, and scientists of all shades I would say this: You cannot ever possibly prevent newspapers from printing nonsense, but you can add your own sense into the mix. E-mail the features desk . . . and offer them a piece on something interesting from your field. They’ll turn you down. Try again.”

Then, changing gears somewhat (although it relates to the value of publishing), Peter Atkins, in a feature article, ponders the future of books. Being in the midst of the e-book revolution, Atkins sees opportunities to explore new ways of conveying concepts that are not so easy to explain with only a static medium. Enhanced visual tools and interactivity are key features for chemists that will allow us to view living graphs or see molecular structures from all angles, similar to an architect’s virtual tour of a future building. Atkins acknowledges that integrating these capabilities into an e-book is a huge undertaking, requiring imaginative contributions from authors, and interfaces and devices that are comfortable and convenient for readers.

Meanwhile, before the publishing world goes completely “e”, you can still take this simple newsmagazine in your briefcase, read it on the train or in a plane, or any place at your leisure. It is also at your fingertips wherever you have online access, providing handy reference once you have recycled this paper version! Write about what you chem do, and send us your ideas for feature stories. We always like to hear from you.

Fabienne Meyers
fabienne@iupac.org


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