Saturday, April 30, 2016

Science fiction in my tea: Gagh

I have a lousy cold.  Where is Dr. Crusher when I need her?  Or barring that a replicator that can produce, "Tea.  Rose vanilla chai.  Hot." on command?

When I'm not writing final exams or grading this week, I'm working on a twinned pair of essays on science fiction in chemistry/science fictions in chemistry.  This morning I picked up my cup of tea (with honey and citron rind in it), and as a well soaked piece of citron rind slithered out, my first thought was "Gagh."  No, no, not a expression of disgust, but gagh, the Klingon delicacy, serpent worms.

Can you read or watch too much SF?  Probably not, but if you can, I clearly have.

While hunting around for science fiction references in the primary chemical literature hasn't been all that successful, I have found (and read) the original ice IX paper [JCP 48, 2362-2370 (1968)], which acknowledges Kurt Vonnegut's prior claim in Cat's Cradle, and a couple of great spoof papers, including one from the German literature in 1890 that fooled enough people to get cited in the primary literature.

Have any favorite SF novels involving chemistry, even peripherally?  Or know of papers in the scientific literature that reference alternate universes? I'd love to know! There's a whole set of compounds named for characters in Puccini'sLa Bohème, including musettamycin, but I'd be shocked if there were more opera buffs than SF fans working in chemistry.

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