ReAction!: Chemistry in the Movies

ReAction!: Chemistry in the Movies

by Mark A. Griep, Marjorie L. Mikasen
     
 

ReAction! gives a scientist's and artist's response to the dark and bright sides of chemistry found in 140 films, most of them contemporary Hollywood feature films but also a few documentaries, shorts, silents, and international films.

Even though there are some examples of screen chemistry between the actors and of behind-the-scenes special effects, this book is

Overview

ReAction! gives a scientist's and artist's response to the dark and bright sides of chemistry found in 140 films, most of them contemporary Hollywood feature films but also a few documentaries, shorts, silents, and international films.

Even though there are some examples of screen chemistry between the actors and of behind-the-scenes special effects, this book is really about the chemistry when it is part of the narrative. It is about the dualities of Dr. Jekyll vs. inventor chemists, the invisible man vs. forensic chemists, chemical weapons vs. classroom chemistry, chemical companies that knowingly pollute the environment vs. altruistic research chemists trying to make the world a better place to live, and, finally, about people who choose to experiment with mind-altering drugs vs. the drug discovery process.

Little did Jekyll know when he brought the Hyde formula to his lips that his personality split would provide the central metaphor that would come to describe chemistry in the movies. This book explores the two movie faces of this supposedly neutral science. Watching films with chemical eyes, Dr. Jekyll is recast as a chemist engaged in psychopharmaceutical research but who becomes addicted to his own formula. He is balanced by the often wacky inventor chemists who make their discoveries by trial-and-error.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A must-have book for chemistry enthusiasts, educators, or anyone who wants to take a deeper look at how science is portrayed through [movies]. The book also provides a wonderful historial perspective of the development of both the movies and the chemistry and chemists portrayed in them. Once you pick up Reaction! you will be motivated to venture to your local theater, or if you prefer, your own laboratory, pull out the popcorn popper, fire up the entertainment system and do some experimenting at the movies."—Chemical Education Today

"A long-overdue salute to films that have used chemistry as more than a mere plot device."—Chemical Heritage Newsmagazine

"No school teacher should be without the capabilities of bringing "Hollywood" into the classroom especially where the chemistry context motivates, consolidates and educates students of all ages. Mark Griep and Marjorie Mikasen's book is likely to act as a catalyst to do that."— Education in Chemistry

"Fascinating and engrossing. The book leaves the reader with plenty of ideas for films to see and some excellent stories about chemists and chemistry. But more than that it presents a fascinating view of chemistry, the movies and chemistry in the movies, which gives the reader plenty of food for thought next time a bit of chemistry appears on the silver screen; and this is perhaps far more than one might expect from a book about chemistry in the movies."—Nature Chemistry

"Griep and Mikasen show that popular films can be chemically interesting as well as entertaining. The book really comes alive when it takes even the unlikeliest chemistry in a film seriously. The first and possibly best example of this is where the authors discuss a candidate for the compound that turns Dr Jekyll into Mr Hyde, based on contemporary evidence about Robert Louis Stevenson, but there's more of this all of the way through, further examples including Flubber, Moonraker, and an Elvis Presley vehicle, called Clambake"—Chemistry World

"Taking as its working metaphor the duality of the Jekyll and Hyde persona, the authors explore the two movie faces of this supposedly neutral science. Well written and researched."—Entrepreneur

Short Q&A article in JournalStar.com

Article in Omaha.com

"The book is a fine historical survey of the movie industry's use of chemistry and chemists... There is real chemistry in every chapter...The authors designed this book to be a resouce for high school and college chemistry teachers... But the book is also just plain fun, and a worthwhile read for anyone interested in movies, how chemists are perceived by the general public, or the broader area of science and society." — Ben B. Chastain, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry, Samford University, Bulletin for the History of Chemistry

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195326925
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
08/13/2009
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

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Meet the Author

Mark Griep is a chemistry professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, who is searching for new antibiotics and who recently received a College Distinguished Teaching Award.

Marjorie Mikasen is a Geometric painter, who recently received an Individual Artist's Fellowship from the Nebraska Arts Council. Her work is in public and private collections. The authors are married and were awarded an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant in the area of Public Understanding of Science to do the research for this book.

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