Farewell To An Old Friend
Mar16

Farewell To An Old Friend

Over the transom today — to borrow a phrase from the aforementioned old friend — came some sad news. Kenneth M. Reese, who wrote C&EN’s Newscripts column for 36 years, passed away on March 3 at the age of 85. Ken had a long history with C&EN, first joining the Chicago office in 1954. He eventually found his way to ACS headquarters in Washington, D.C. in 1962, when he assumed the role of the magazine’s managing editor. In 1967, Ken retired from the weekly editor’s grind to take the best job at C&EN — Newscripts Editor. Although his wasn’t the first byline to accompany the Newscripts column, it’s fair to say that Ken took C&EN’s odd little back page and made it into one of the magazine’s most read. Even five years after Reese’s retirement, readers still tell us that Newscripts is the first page they flip to — the highest compliment one could pay columnist. The loyal following undoubtedly comes from Ken’s wry humor, easy rapport with readers, and genius at picking subject matter. As one of the gang of writers who has helped put the column together since Ken’s retirement in 2004, I’d personally like to thank him for setting Newscripts’ editorial policy. “The editorial policy, if any,” he wrote on the occasion of the column’s 50th anniversary in 1993, “favors the chemical over the nonchemical, the scientific over the nonscientific, the grotesque over the normal.” From this Ken managed to assemble a brilliant body of work, documenting everything from soapmaking inmates to spontaneous human combustion to Komodo dragon acupuncture. Personally, I’m still in awe of the breadth items he cobbled together for his recurring feature from the Department of Obscure Information: About 1 g of ozone will neutralize the odor of a liter of hog manure slurry; Japan saw the arrival of flush toilets in the late 1980s; red and yellow onions, but not white ones, contain quercetin. I can only assume that Ken gathered such information without the aid of the Internet, since he always submitted his columns  as neatly typed pages (presumably tapped out on the typewriter in his iconic picture) which were then reentered into an electronic file by a copyeditor. Have you got a favorite Newscripts column? A memory of Ken you’d like to share? Please put it in the comments. I’m sure Ken would want us to remember him with a good...

Read More
Chemistry Newsbytes
Mar03

Chemistry Newsbytes

After studying 503 pieces of his own belly button fluff, chemist Georg Steinhauser (the fellow who analyzed the wearing away of his wedding band) has discovered why our navels make good lint traps.  Telegraph An easy way to ensure that pricey organic milk isn’t just conventional milk that’s been relabeled. NY Times Derek Lowe breaks down the recent OPRD smackdown. In the Pipeline Could rotton eggs be the next Viagra? Wired Science Brits announce program to retrain out-of-work scientists to be science teachers. Guardian Chemical engineer tackles big problems while eschewing profits. His first project: Making the antimalarial artemisenin. His next: Biofuels. Newsweek Biotech mogul unearths 13,000-year-old weapons cache in his backyard. LA Times Greener gardeners turn from plastic pots to pots made from cow pies. NY...

Read More
Chemistry Newsbytes
Feb04

Chemistry Newsbytes

Beam me up Scottie! Teleportation works…for ions. NY Times NSF has some issues with NSFW web surfing. Politico (hat tip to Chemistry Blog for the story and the acronym joke). Brits: Be on the lookout for old bulbs. The Royal Society of Chemistry is offering a $750 reward for Britain’s oldest working lightbulb. Guardian Those peanut butter crackers were pretty tasty…until you found out they were recalled. What to do now? Slate Random (and kinda gross) armpit research shows men smell like cheese and women smell like onions. New Scientist The UK’s Institution of Chemical Engineers has compiled 10 safe “flash bang” demonstrations to spark high schoolers’ interest in science. Guardian It’s OK for guys to play the cello again, but the guitar may still be problematic.  (This isn’t a chemistry newsbyte, but it turned up in my science RSS feeds, and I just had to share.) LA...

Read More
Michael McDowell Would Like To Thank Materials Science
Feb02

Michael McDowell Would Like To Thank Materials Science

The story of race car driver Michael McDowell’s spectacular crash at the Texas Motor Speedway last year kicks off this week’s cover story on materials science and NASCAR. Check out this video of the accident to see just how amazing it was that McDowell was able to walk away from the wreck.

Read More
Chemistry Newsbytes
Jan27

Chemistry Newsbytes

The Royal Society of Chemistry writes a new ending for the 1969 heist film, “The Italian Job.” Modesto Bee Chemistry Nobel Laureate Peter Agre talks about aquaporins, running for senator in Minnesota, and what his mom said when she found out he won the Nobel Prize. NY Times Why do cold cellos sound lousy? Slate Cambodian villagers are learning about water safety by watching karaoke videos. NPR Galileo’s DNA will be tested to probe his failing eyesight. Seems like it might be a little late for that. Guardian Artemisinin may be losing its antimalarial potency. NY Times Dung beetles tire of the same old, um, stuff. Decide to munch on millipedes instead....

Read More