Comment »Posted on Friday 7 November 2008 at 5:28 pm by Jacob Aron
In Getting It Wrong, Musings

I’m starting to worry about the Royal Society of Chemistry. Lately they’ve been acting a bit like an embarrassing school teacher – the kind who tries to be “down wid da kids”. Innit. Urgh.

Sorry. First of all, it was their competition a couple of months ago to suggest a new name for the Large Hadron Collider. They offered £500 to anyone who could come up with a better name than the current “contrived acronym”. The winner was “Halo” – in my opinion a far worse name than LHC, but there we go.

The point is, what was the RSC even doing running such a competition? Their own press release mentions that “Some reports say that the RSC is suffering from “professional jealousy”". I don’t think it’s that, but I’m stumped as to why the Royal Society of CHEMISTRY are getting involved with a particle physics experiment.

You might say that they were just jumping on the LHC bandwagon, hoping to ride the massive wave of publicity. It’s possible, but then how do you explain this latest development? The RSC are now “inviting the public to devise a successful ending to the greatest-ever cinema cliff-hanger to mark the 40th birthday next year of The Italian Job made in 1969.”

Sorry, what? The Italian Job? Sure, great film, no disagreement there. Fantastic ending, you’ll get no argument from me. But, and I say it again, why the Royal Society of C-H-E-M-I-S-T-R-Y? It turns out that 100 years before the film was the creation of the Periodic Table by Dmitri Mendeleyev.

Now, get ready for this.

There’s gold in The Italian Job. There’s also gold in the Periodic Table.

That’s it! That’s the link they’re going for! Bravo, RSC, on one of the most tenuous excuses I have ever seen. They’re trying to “draw attention to gold”, and by association, the Periodic Table. It must also be pointed out that the RSC “does not condone the fictional bullion heist and regards the competition only as a scientific and logical challenge.” (I like that they don’t condone fictional heists, presumably leaving the door open for real life ones.)

If you want to enter the competition (and aid the RSC in its descent to madness) the details are all in the link above. The prize is a three-night stay for two in Turin. Not a chemistry set in sight…


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