Gearing Up For Nobel Week
Oct01

Gearing Up For Nobel Week

Nobel Week will soon be upon us. Whilst you wait, here's a round up of predictions: ChemBark Thomson Reuters In the Pipeline The Curious Wavefunction Everyday Scientist NNNS Chemistry Blog The Simpsons And some other interesting items to keep you entertained: An old (from 2000), but interesting C&EN story on the Chemistry Nobel's centennial ChemBark's "Name the Nobel Prize Winners" quiz ChemBark's post on Nobel Prize considerations And, of course, check out the 2010 Ig Nobel...

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“Dr. NakaMats” Film A Quirky, Heartwarming Ride
Jul01

“Dr. NakaMats” Film A Quirky, Heartwarming Ride

Last Saturday, C&EN colleague Carmen Drahl and I headed to the American Film Institute’s SilverDocs festival just outside Washington, D.C. During our day at the film fest, which ran June 21–27, we screened a quirky, highly entertaining documentary about science, the art of invention, and how to pick out a new camera by smelling it. Yes, “The Invention of Dr. NakaMats” has everything Newscripts readers love, including a scene about the Ig Nobel Prizes. You see, Dr. Yoshiro Nakamatsu, the subject of the film, earned the Ig Nobel Prize for Nutrition in 2005 because he photographed every meal he had eaten for 34 years and studied the effects of the food on his health. Although Dr. NakaMats comes off as a kooky piece of work—a Willy Wonka who deals in patents rather than chocolate—the Japanese inventor is in fact responsible for the technology behind an impressive number of gadgets. You might have heard of the floppy disk, the CD, and (of course) the karaoke machine. Against the brightly lit backdrop of Tokyo, filmmaker Kaspar Astrup Schröder has painted a vibrant cinematic portrait of the inventor, a man just slightly full of himself. And why shouldn’t he be? He holds more patents than anyone else in the world: 3,357 at the time the documentary was shot, compared with Thomas Edison’s paltry 1,093. This is a fact NakaMats makes sure to point out as he stands on Dr. NakaMats Street in front of Dr. NakaMats’ house, framed by a floppy-disk-shaped gate. But NakaMats, who has acquired a cultlike following in Japan, is just as endearing as he is egotistical. We see him proudly present invention after wacky invention to the camera, saying of his motivation, “I do it out of love.” Clearly, a lot of the inventions Schröder presents in the film get played for laughs. And they are indeed hilarious: a notebook that works underwater, springy PyonPyon jogging shoes, and a new bra called B Bust, just to name a few. What else can you say about a man who, as a response to Japan’s declining birthrate and aging population, invents an aphrodisiac for women that he names Love Jet? NakaMats’ most ambitious goal is to live a long life—record-settingly long. He’s about to turn 80 as the film opens (he is now 82), but he considers himself to be in the prime of his life. His goal age? 144 years old. When NakaMats outlines his philosophy on how to attain that goal to a 91-year-old visitor, we learn that he combines rigorous caloric restriction (just one meal a day) with his own special supplement, a patented (of course) blend of...

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