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The Lighter Side of C&EN

by Rudy M. Baum
August 9, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 32

C &EN is, by any measure, a serious magazine devoted to covering a serious topic. C&EN Online, the electronic extension of C&EN, is a complement to and reflection of the print edition of the magazine. C&EN's 55 full-time staff members are deeply committed to providing our readers each week with a package of information essential to them as chemical professionals.

In the Government & Policy Department, Senior Editor Cheryl Hogue looks at EPA's efforts to develop a workable regulatory framework for metals in the environment that takes into consideration all of the complexities that differentiate metals from organic pollutants. In Science & Technology, Senior Editor Steve Ritter, who happens to run marathons, examines the latest technology being deployed in Athens to detect the use of performance-enhancing drugs by athletes at the Olympics.

This week's cover story, by Senior Correspondent Stu Borman, is a comprehensive look at efforts to develop carbohydrate vaccines. Oligosaccharide synthesis is notoriously difficult, but chemists have made remarkable strides in developing techniques for constructing these molecules more easily and conveniently, Borman reports.

While we at C&EN take our work seriously, we also have a great deal of fun every week producing the magazine. In part, that is because, in addition to being very good reporters, C&EN staff members are highly creative individuals with a wide range of interests. They bring their creativity and enthusiasm with them to work every day.

In addition to its other functions, C&EN Online has become a venue for features that serve C&EN's readers but that just do not fit well into the print edition. Earlier this year, Hong Kong Bureau Head Jean-François Tremblay traveled more than 1,000 miles down China's Yangtze River reporting on the chemical industry along the river. In addition, for C&EN Online, Tremblay wrote a much more personal travelogue recounting adventures and observations during the long trip.

Last week, C&EN Online debuted "Reel Science: News and Reviews about Science in Film" ( Reel Science is the brainchild of Victoria Gilman, who is an assistant editor in the ACS News & Special Features Department and, like many C&EN staffers, an avid film buff. C&EN Managing Editor Pam Zurer and I encouraged her to move forward with it, and she and C&EN Online Production Associate Wes Lindamood have created a dynamic, interesting site that addresses its subject with a light touch.

C&EN established Reel Science "to encourage critical thinking about the way science is presented in film," Gilman says. "The site includes reviews of new theatrical releases evaluated with a scientific audience in mind and recommendations of older films that have been influential or controversial within the science fiction genre."

The first featured review on Reel Science is of the action/adventure film "I, Robot," which I had pretty much decided to skip until I read Alex Kim's review, which is not glowing but which makes the movie sound worth the effort, at least when it comes out on video. Even more fascinating to me, however, were the links to efforts by Sony, Honda, and other companies to develop functional bipedal robots.

When we were developing it in 1998, I viewed C&EN Online as primarily an electronic delivery system for the content of the print edition of C&EN. Thanks to the efforts of C&EN Online Editor Melody Voith, her staff, and all of the reporters and editors at C&EN, C&EN Online has become much more than that.

Take a look at Reel Science, and thanks for reading.


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