Thursday, April 18, 2013

#ChemMovieCarnival: Chocolate and chemical academia

It's time for the #ChemMovieCarnival, as organized by See Arr Oh (who posted this first day round-up). So far we've seen chemistry featured in Fight Club, Iron Man 2, The Great Escape, The Absent Minded Professor, G.I. Joe, Real Genius, and MacGyver, among others.

Some of the above examples highlight some pretty bad movie science. I thought I'd share a movie clip that was on the other end of the spectrum!

Everyone's familiar with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory--the 1971 musical film starring the immortal Gene Wilder. The film's protagonist is Charlie Bucket, a child from a poor family whose genuine heart leads him to success where several other spoiled/privileged children fail. Early on, we're shown Charlie's education, including the following chemistry demonstration. The clip is a little modified from the original at the end (it was the only one I could find!).

It's a remarkably accurate portrayal of life in chemical academia. After all, all the hallmarks are there:

  • Disregard for proper PPE/lab safety.
  • Intellectual snobbery/faculty egotism.
  • Over-eager undergrads who don't know what they're doing.
  • Secrecy and irreproducibility.

Just like life in the lab! (Of course, Pure Imagination is perhaps more apt to describe the pragmatism of many projects).