Chemistry C1404


The ChemWrite Lectures in General Chemistry

for the Spring Term, 1998


"Reading and Writing About Chemistry in Human Perspective: Literary Dimensions."

April 10, 1998 - C3 = Cookies, ChemWrite, & Confusion. Join us for some refreshments in 309 Havemeyer at 12 Noon. Evaluation forms available here.

April 10, 1998 - ChemWrite papers due. You must attach an evaluation form to the last page of your paper. The evaluation form will be available starting Wednesday, April 8. Office hours

March 9, 1998 - NOTE: There is no registration necessary for ChemWrite books.

Friday, February 13th: "Popular Science."

Friday, March 6th: "Pathological Science."


PROSPECTUS: ChemWrite provides students in the General Chemistry Course (C1404) with an opportunity to earn up to 16% of their Spring Term grade by exploring dimension in science as found in selected literary works. Select one book from the accompanying reading list and write a concise analysis of a research proposition, or question, presented by the author, that is key to the central thesis of the book. What observations were given? What lines of reasoning were developed? And finally, what was the reader left to conclude on resolution of the question raised by the original proposition? Comment on the integrity and credibility of the science presented, the cogency of the argument and the overall effectiveness of the author's work as a statement on how science works and science as a way of thinking. Try to stay within the confines of the author's work. Were the author's arguments reasoned? Defensible? Based on observation and experiment? Is the author guilty of imagining more than physical reality could allow? That is to say, did the author get the science right?

The lectures are given on February 13th and March 6th, respectively, at 9:00-9:50 and at 11:00-11:50, in rooms to be announced. It is presumed you will attend the February and March lectures, at one hour or the other. Your paper should consist of a front page containing a title derived of the book and a 100-word (or less) abstract of your paper, followed by two double-spaced pages of content, all of which must be produced on a word processor. The result should be a three-page document. Although the paper will not be scrutinized for grammar and punctuation, it is expected there will be reasonable conformity to standard practices of Logic and Rhetoric. Clarity and simplicity should override literary exuberance. Remember, this is critical writing about science in literary works and not literary criticism.


BOOK LIST: All of the books on this list are variously available at bookstores in the area, except (4) which can only be purchased from the undergraduate office (Room 318 Havemeyer). You must make your selection and submit a hard copy final paper by 5:00 P.M. on Friday, April 10th. One of the books is a detective story; another, science fiction; there is a current novel of local interest; three more deal with scientific mistakes - two mistakes embarrassed the scientists who did the work (we think) while the third mistake led to a national catastrophe of historic proportion; finally, a popular account of a strange epidemic, a unique literary tour de force of the periodic table, and a dangerous game.

(1) Dorothy Sayers, "The Documents in the Case," Harper-Collins Publishers.

(2) Walter Miller, "A Canticle for Liebowitz," Bantam Books.

(3) Jennifer Ball, "Catalyst," Faber & Faber.

(4) Felix Franks, "Polywater," MIT Press.

(5) Frank Close, "Too Hot to Handle: The Race for Cold Fusion," Princeton University Press.

(6) Richard Feynman, "What do You Care What Other People Think?" Bantam Books.

(7) Richard Preston, "Hot Zone," Bantam Books.

(8) Primo Levi, "The Periodic Table," Schoken Books.

(9) William Poundstone, "The Prisoner's Dilemma," Doubleday publishers.


PROFESSOR AND PRECEPTOR; ASSISTANTS: Leonard Fine and Andy Eng; David Churchill, Rayanne Moreira, and Seth Rubin.