Boron Blunder In The Spotlight

When I fact-checked one of my story drafts this morning, I felt as though Conan O'Brien was watching. That's because O'Brien, comedian and host of the TV show Late Night, gave the New York Times a piece of his mind when he noticed a correction they printed for a science news story. To be more specific, the error was in their story about a newly-discovered form of the element boron, a story we also covered at C&EN. I guess it's about as hilarious a reminder as possible to be sure I get my facts right - I doubt it'll spark curiosity about the basic science achievement, although I'd love to be wrong on that. Watch the smackdown in this video - it's glorious to behold. *Hat tips to WiSci, CBC, Sceptical UPDATE 2/11/09: The corresponding author of the new boron work, Artem Oganov of Stony Brook University, got quite the introduction to Conan’s brand of comedy. In an e-mail, he told C&EN that while he’s never seen Late Night until now, he does try to make time for “Borat” comedian Sacha Baron-Cohen's shows. Conan's rant was completely scientifically accurate, Oganov says, so much so that he’d “like to show Conan's clip as an introduction to boron's physics and chemistry in lectures and classes.”

Author: Carmen Drahl

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  1. This is really hilarious, Carmen. Thanks for posting it. I couldn’t have seen it any other way as Conan’s show is way too late for me.

  2. I don’t watch Conan, either, to be honest – it was the posts on our fellow chemistry blogs that tipped me off to this clip. A quick read of my posts on this blog will give away my status as a Stephen Colbert fan. But Conan did some great work when he was a writer for The Simpsons – so maybe I should have a look at his show.

  3. Cheap shot at an easy target. I expect better from Mr. O’Brien.

    The correction in the Times, by the way, was no doubt prompted by an irate letter from a Forty-Year Member®.


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