The Sceptical Chymist | Blogroll: Creative chemistry

Published in Chemistry

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Editor’s note: As we continue to invite bloggers out there in the wild to compose our monthly Blogroll column, Renée Webster penned the February 2014 column.


Bloggers combine chemistry and the arts for striking results.

‘Creative’ may not be the first adjective that comes to mind when describing chemists. Despite comparisons one might make between chemical synthesis and the ‘dark arts’, the stereotype of a chemist is that of a methodical, analytical thinker rather than a creative and artistic one. Several chemistry bloggers are helping to dispel this myth, however, by sharing their science in the form of photographs, digital art or poetry.

Kristof Hegedüs blogs at Pictures from an Organic Chemistry Laboratory, where each day he shares a photograph of something from his lab. Subjects range from crystals, to experimental set-ups and interesting reagents. Each post is accompanied by a short description to explain what is shown in the picture. Nevertheless, the focus is primarily on the photography, with the simple aesthetics of laboratory glassware a recurring theme.

A recent post from the Picture it… Chemistry blog featured the opium poppy Papaver somniferum, popularly known for its psychoactive alkaloids. The blog post begins on a surreal note, with a picture of a poppy growing out of an Allihn condenser used to demonstrate a laboratory extraction of opioids. The post concludes with discussion of total syntheses of morphine and codeine, incorporating some classics of synthetic chemistry such as the Diels–Alder reaction and reductive amination.

Finally, to transition from pictures back to words, Mark Lorch at Chemistry Blog recently hosted a number of limerick poems written by Nicholas Dawson. With topics ranging from Viagra to the vulcanization of rubber to phlogiston theory, it was a refreshing and whimsical way to rediscover some of the milestones of chemical history.

Written by Renée Webster, who blogs at


[As mentioned in this post, we’re posting the monthly blogroll column here on the Sceptical Chymist. This is the February 2014 article]

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