Chemical Blunders And Conan O’Brien

In this week's Newscripts, I wrote about an unfortunate chemical error that made it into print in Ohio. One of our readers, David M. Manuta, sent in a newspaper clipping about road deicers that mentioned a particularly effective salt: "sodium magnesium." Sadly, this blunder could have been avoided had the writer checked in with a chemist (a regular old chemist--no advanced degrees needed here to clear things up) before publication. This clipping brought to mind "The Tonight Show" segment entitled "Headlines," in which Jay Leno uses erroneous bits from newspapers and magazines to make his audience laugh. Of course, this molecular error would probably not amuse the general public--just us chemists.  But the point I wanted to make in this post is that Leno doesn't really amuse me that much. I introduced the Newscripts with "Headlines" because he's popular, although I'm not quite sure why. Personally, I'm With Coco. As a tribute to Conan O'Brien and as a way to repent for my mention of Leno, I was going to repost last year's hilarious clip of O'Brien chastising the New York Times for a blunder about boron that it printed. The problem is that NBC ("The Man") has taken the video down. This leaves me with two questions. 1) Does anyone out there still have the clip to share? and 2) Does anyone have any other published chemical errors that they'd like to share?

Author: Lauren Wolf

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  1. Thanks for sharing, Sargis. This is great. I noticed that “Hadron” was spelled correctly in the article’s deck. Yet another argument for not laying off your copy editors.