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Bolton Society Symposia: 2008 April

Named for Henry Carrington Bolton, the Bolton Society encourages and promotes the individual love for and collection of all types of printed material devoted to chemistry and related sciences.

A Festival of Chemistry Entertainments

Organizer, Presiding: Jack Stocker

Reese's Pieces: "Best" of C&EN newscripts written by K. M. Reese / William F. Carroll Jr.

Chemical and Engineering News (C&EN), known as the preferred source of information about the chemistry enterprise, took its mission seriously enough to include chemical whimsy in its reportage. Newscripts has brought us the other side of the news on the back page of C&EN since 1943. Ken Reese, 50 years in the Publications Division and over 50 years as an ACS member at the time of his retirement in 2004, was not the first steward of this regular column, nor is he the last, but his work sets the standard. This paper highlights some of the author's favorite Reese postings as a tribute to a legend.

Letters to C&EN's Editor: The good, the bad, and the ugly / Rudy M. Baum

The readers of Chemical & Engineering News - that is, the members of ACS - are a marvelously diverse collection of professionals. The letters they write to the editor of C&EN reflect that diversity. In this talk, I will provide examples of the erudite, contentious, complimentary, angry, dismissive, and sometimes obsessive letters I have received in my tenure as Editor-in-Chief of the “newsmagazine of the chemical world.”

Are the versed scientific papers among the best? / Joe Bunnett

Narration in verse was the rage
In earlier years of our age
Factual statements appeared
Lucid discourse was cheered
Pleonasm* was simply an outrage.
Presentation written in verse
Is characteristically terse
It takes so much time
to find rhythm and thyme
To state a truth or deny its inverse.
* from the Greek, "redundancy of words in speaking or writing."

Intriguing records in CAS databases / Janice E. Mears, Roger J. Schenck

In a resource as far-ranging as Chemical Abstracts and the databases to which it gave rise, there are bound to be many items of information that evoke the "you don't say" response. This presentation will discuss some of the unique, unusual, and especially interesting items of information in CAS databases. These include the shortest abstract, the longest name, the heaviest molecule, and more. Taken together, this miscellany of stand-out records in the CAS databases suggests the great variety of chemistry-related material that has come to the attention of CAS and helps to illustrate why CAS is known as an exceptional resource that reflects the varied and often unexpected character of scientific information

Curriculum witty: Chemistry in verse and song / Howard Shapiro

Tom Lehrer rhymed the elements with humor and felicity,
But little in his ditty indicates periodicity.
Alberto Cavaliere's book, some years before, in Italy,
Put chemistry more accurate in verse, but just as wittily.
Frank Gucker was the model of a modern doctor chemical,
And built machines about which I've waxed lyric and polemical,
The newer ones make measurements of cells stained with fluorescent
dyes ... escent dyes, escent dyes, ...Aha!
In rooms in which it's just as dark as when the lunar crescent dies.
What better place is there for songs, especially the secular,
Than New Orleans? I'll sing a few, atomic and molecular,
I'll be an unconventioneer, but nonetheless dress snazzily,
And maybe even try to update Lehrer's song more jazzily!

Always a cross(ed) word / Mary Virginia Orna

This presentation will initiate the audience into the creation of scientific crossword puzzles, keeping in mind that research is first and foremost the most important first step. Audience participation will be requested, but not required. Beware of missteps and sneaky clues. The puns may be painful but the humor will be priceless.

Rotten reviews / Derek Davenport

In many ways, scientific publishing is akin to the Bermuda Triangle: the editor, the reviewer, and the author(s) occupying the vertices of the tringle, each with well-deliniated lines of responsibility and civilized communication. We will concentrate on the murky interior of the triangle where mayhem often reigns.

From the pens of thirsty chemists and the occasional cat: Chemists' humor in publications / Natalie Foster

We all know chemists have a sense of humor, but we don't usually look for evidence of it in formal publications. This presentation will explore items from the published literature where chemists as authors of serious publications have slipped in elements of humor ranging from the fanciful (a cat as a co-author?) to down-right enlightened (Berichte der durstigen chemischen Gesellschaft), perhaps the single most impressive prank in the chemical literature.

ACS history in personal political debates (both p and P) / Mary L. Good

The official posture of the American Chemical Society is that it is a society of professional members devoted to the discipline of chemistry and the well-being of chemists. It professes to be politically non-partisan and advocates for its policies on a non-political basis. It also professes to accepting application for membership based on professional credentials. However, over the years the Society has been buffeted by events that challenge this non-political stance. Several of these incidents have involved prominent scientists, some of whom have been ACS members. We will explore some of these cases and discuss their impact on ACS and how they relate to current issues facing the Society.

A small cornucopia of miscellaneous whimsy / Jack Stocker

The speaker will provide examples of:
(a) whimsical chemical structures with their proposed nomenclature,
(b) useful devices for teaching the prefix orders of ten,
(c) some additional Guinness Records, not from CAS,
(d) noteworthy authorship's,
(e) notable acronyms,
(f) amusing references,
and any related bits of whimsy other festival representative's couldn't find time for.