One of my favourite pieces of stupidity is people who try and live “chemical free”.
It’s by far the most wonderfully ridiculous of all the ‘new age’ nonsense that people like to sprout.
Short of ejecting their consciousness from their bodies and floating around some astral plane, I really don’t see it happening.
Peter Wothers is presenting a lecture at the ANU on chemistry and the role chemicals play in our lives and the in universe around us in the hopes of changing the minds of a few of these chemophobic nutters.
“Every time you make a cup of tea or coffee you are doing chemistry,” he says. “You are extracting certain materials you do want from those you don’t want – you don’t want to crunch your way through coffee grinds to get the delicious coffee taste.”
“It’s a similar thing with chemistry. Over time we have found there are certain medicines that work really well but wouldn’t it be better to have just the part that is effective?”
Wothers says chemistry is about finding these effective components, and separating them from the extra bits and pieces.
“For instance if there is a drug in a sea sponge, do we need to eat the whole sea sponge? Or should we try and make the active component? That is one of the roles of the chemist, trying to make these reactive components rather than slaughtering all these rare sea sponges.”
Wothers has been visiting ANU for many years, sharing his enthusiasm for chemistry through his entertaining and often explosive shows.
“The current show is based around the idea that people think chemicals are bad. They don’t realise that everything around them is made up of chemicals – their food, themselves. All the chemicals we use in the lecture we show how they are made or can be obtained through nature.”
God speed Dr Wothers!
Free Range Chemistry will be presented on Friday 13 September at 7pm and Saturday 14 September at 2pm in Chemistry T1 Lecture Theatre at ANU. Both shows are free and open to the public. Seating is limited; arrive early to avoid disappointment