Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Back to the Future

In celebration of the return of ChemBark and Propter Doc I must pop up this tiny offering on my series on chemistry used to sell things. I see Future Shop in Canada is trying to convince people to buy flat screen TVs with images of chemistry.

It is a bit confused, but internally correct. There are two balanced chemical reactions listed one of the reaction of nitric acid with copper and the second appears to be an acid with carbonic acid. There is a dilution calculation and a freezing point depression calculation, a correct statement of the molar mass of hexachloroethane and parts of a larger organic molecule. As far as I can see the individual bits are correct.

Chemistry doesn't need to be cool when it functions iconically as something within the practical world of the general population that is "useful" but also advanced and capable of creating a better future. In reality that is all that advertising really sells ... a better future if you buy what we are selling. Chemistry doesn't need to be understood when it delivers a meta-narrative of progress.

I see that when they needed something to symbolize the quality of the image and technology they did not go to biology (too low and muddy) or physics (too arid and mathematical).
Chemistry sells. Now if we could just get a commemorative posting from HomeBrew we could rock out like it was 2005 all over again.

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For a while it was all about research and then it was all about teaching and now it's all about trying to find a balance while teaching at a small liberal arts and science university.