Guest Editor for InfoChem

As part of my internship at the Royal Society of Chemistry, I had the opportunity to be Editor of the January 2011 InfoChem (now renamed The Mole) issue. I wrote an editorial on China’s rare earth monopoly, on the importance of natural product synthesis in chemistry, and reported an interview with a chemist at BP.

InfoChem, January 2011

The success stories of our times

I’ve always loved reading the Readers’ Digest. Thanks to my mum and dad who have subscribed to it for the past twenty years. Apart from all the well-picked and topical articles, I always enjoyed reading their interviews. Recently, Suchitra sent me a link to an interview of Will Smith which was published in RD sometime ago. And after having read an RD interview after such a long time, I felt like reading more of them. I am sharing the most interesting bits of the interviews that I read:

Will Smith

RD: Have you ever thought about going back to college?
Smith: The things that have been most valuable to me I did not learn in school. Traditional education is based on facts and figures and passing tests — not on a comprehension of the material and its application to your life.

RD: Some would say there’s no reason to stay if a marriage isn’t good.
Smith: Once you say that, you’ve lost. With Jada, I stood up in front of God and my family and friends and said, “Till death do us part.”

RD: So getting to where you are is all just about running hard?
Smith: Most people you are going to be in competition with are not gonna give 100 percent.

RD: You work harder than the next guy?
Smith: I consider myself to be of basically average talent, right? What I have that other people do not have is a sick, obsessive, raw animal drive.

Jon Bon Jovi

RD: But then again you are always looking for new responsibilities.
JBJ: I never was one to rest on yesterday’s successes. I’m much more motivated to find new challenges.

RD: How do you feel today about your very first job selling women’s shoes? Is it something you’re ashamed of?
JBJ: Not at all

Michael J Fox

RD: You joke in your new book that you are fortunate to have married someone — actress Tracy Pollan — who is smarter and better looking than you. Do you think marital bliss boils down to that one choice: marrying the right person?
MJF:Obviously, that’s fundamental. But the key to our marriage is the capacity to give each other a break. And to realize that it’s not how our similarities work together; it’s how our differences work together. The least amount of judging we can do, the better off we are.

RD: Your last book, Always Looking Up, was about optimism. It’s the rare person who is as positive as you are. What’s your prescription for dealing with really negative, difficult people?
MJF: I think the scariest person in the world is the person with no sense of humor. I would say be patient with people who are negative, because they’re really having a hard time.

Hilary Swank

RD: Who instilled you with that belief in yourself?
Swank: My mom. She said, “You can do anything you want in life, Hilary, as long as you work hard enough. Don’t take no for an answer.” She didn’t want me to be afraid of taking life by the reins and making the most of it.

RD: There’s a lesson in that, right?
Swank: If you go into life with a good attitude, you’ll get more out of it.

Harrison Ford

RD: Your movies have grossed $3 billion. Is money all it’s cracked up to be?
Ford: Money is really only important if you don’t have any

Uma Thurman

Thurman: The purest relationship I have ever had, aside from with my children, is with my work. Whatever you give it, it gives you back double. That’s an unusual kind of relationship

RD: You’ve been at this for 20 years. Do you ever get tired of it?
Thurman: I’ve always approached work as a worker. Whatever it takes — endurance, discipline, practice, repetition, courage, working through it — I just have always been willing to pull myself up and try again. I’ve never taken success for granted.

Tom Cruise

RD: You’re lucky.
Cruise: I know.

Ok I admit these were all celebrity interviews. But I hope you enjoyed them nevertheless. 🙂

The big questions

Jean-Marie Lehn shared the 1987 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Donald Cram and Charles Pederson for their development and use of molecules with structure-specific interactions of high selectivity. He is more commonly known as the father of supramolecular chemistry. In the lecture that preceded this interview, he tried to explain the importance of supramolecular chemistry. “Chemistry is a bridge between Physics and Biology. It tries to explain how complexity arose from particulate matter”, he said with conviction.

Interview with Jean-Marie Lehn: Chemistry is trying to answer the biggest questions – Nature Lindau, 15 July 2010