Monday, November 12, 2007

Roald Hoffmann

My preview of Nobel Prize-winning chemist Roald Hoffmann's upcoming talk at Skidmore College can be read here.

And David Brickman has gets a little more humanity into his preview of the same event.

I think I was a little nervous for this interview.

I hestitate to post a link to the World of Chemistry parodies mentioned in the story (I haven't watched them through and don't know how mean they get), but blogger Jennifer Saylor, who watched the series in her junior college chemistry class, has an an interesting take on its appeal:
I’m a huge fan. The videos are utterly dorky, and I find the series irresistible for its awkward charm and nerdiness. If I could get the DVDs from my local video store, I would watch them all.
(In the sidebar is a link to a streaming video of the entire series.)

And here's a poem by Hoffmann, that I didn't have room for in the story:


Cantilevered methyl groups,
battered in endless anharmonic motion.
A molecule swims,
dispersing its functionality,
scattering its reactive centers.

Not every collision,
not every punctilious trajectory
by which billiard-ball complexes
arrive at their calculable meeting places
leads to reaction.
Most encounters end in
a harmless sideways swipe.
An exchange of momentum,
a mere deflection.

And so it is for us.
The hard knock must be just right.
The eyes need lock, and
glimmers of intent penetrate.

The setting counts.
A soft brush of mohair
or touch of hand.
A perfumed breeze.
Men (and women) are not
as different from molecules
as they think.

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