Philosophy of Science: Chemistry


When you think of chemistry you tend to associate it with the periodic table and beakers of hydrochloric acid, but a Nobel prize-winning chemist says there is a human side to this branch of science. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont.

“I think chemistry can move toward bigger and smaller, but it’s firmly on the human scale.”

Roald Hoffmann, an theoretical chemist at Cornell University, sees chemistry as being on a scale that people can relate to.

“Chemistry is something squarely in the middle. It s not about the giant galaxies it’s not about quarks. When you go to a doctor and he prescribes a drug – that’s a chemical- you want that drug to heal and you’re afraid of its side effects. It’s right there in the middle and it’s practical. It’s not very glamorous, that’s why there isn’t a philosophy of chemistry.”

Nevertheless, Hoffmann, also a poet and writer, waxes philosophical about chemistry.

“Quarks and galaxies, they’re fine as intellectual objectives, but they’re not going to hurt you they’re not going to heal you. Molecules are what we want to heal and are afraid of. Now, thats on a human scale. What you love and what you fear, that is where human beings are. So, I think chemistry is very interesting and i think chemistry is full of great tensions which make it human.”

To hear some of your favorite Pulse of the Planet programs again online, please visit NationalGeographic.com. Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.


Philosophy of Science: Chemistry

According to a Nobel prize winning scientist, chemistry is on a very human scale.
Air Date:07/26/2001
Scientist:
Transcript:


When you think of chemistry you tend to associate it with the periodic table and beakers of hydrochloric acid, but a Nobel prize-winning chemist says there is a human side to this branch of science. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont.

"I think chemistry can move toward bigger and smaller, but it's firmly on the human scale."

Roald Hoffmann, an theoretical chemist at Cornell University, sees chemistry as being on a scale that people can relate to.

"Chemistry is something squarely in the middle. It s not about the giant galaxies it's not about quarks. When you go to a doctor and he prescribes a drug - that's a chemical- you want that drug to heal and you're afraid of its side effects. It's right there in the middle and it's practical. It's not very glamorous, that's why there isn't a philosophy of chemistry."

Nevertheless, Hoffmann, also a poet and writer, waxes philosophical about chemistry.

"Quarks and galaxies, they're fine as intellectual objectives, but they're not going to hurt you they're not going to heal you. Molecules are what we want to heal and are afraid of. Now, thats on a human scale. What you love and what you fear, that is where human beings are. So, I think chemistry is very interesting and i think chemistry is full of great tensions which make it human."

To hear some of your favorite Pulse of the Planet programs again online, please visit NationalGeographic.com. Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.