Monday, June 13, 2011

Review of ATOMIC ROMANCES, MOLECULAR DANCES by Mala L. Radhakrishnan

Review of ATOMIC ROMANCES, MOLECULAR DANCES by Mala L. Radhakrishnan, illustrated by Mary O’Reilly, copyright 2011, ISBN 978-14583-3192-2, paperback, 144 pages, $14.95

Review by Barbara Bialick

This book of “Chemistry Poetry” as the author calls it, is a clever compilation of word play fun for scientists, poets who find science fun to study, as well as a tool for science teachers. It is packed with rhymes on such topics as “The Atoms’ Family”, (Periodic Trends), “The Proton Personals” (Quantum Mechanics and Orbitals), “Ethanol, My Children”, and “The Alpha Personality” (Biochemistry and Cellular Biology)—“The loveliest partner that I could find/Is waiting right here for me to bind…”

I dived right into the Quantum Mechanics section to see what I could see. In “Guiding Light” it begins, “Hello there, good Doctor. My name is Leon,/emitted last night by an atom of neon. Because I am light, I’ve got reason to rave,/For I can exist in both particle and wave…/But I’ll get to the point, Doc, ‘cause you’re in a rush./My problem is simple: I’ve got a huge crush/on an atom whose life I could make a lot brighter/if only she’d let in my light to excite her!”

After all, “Many say love’s got strange dynamics--/Not so if you know your quantum mechanics!”

The author, Mala L. Radhakrishnan is a biophysical chemist and a faculty member in the Chemistry Department at Wellesley College. She earned her A.B. in Chemistry and Physics from Harvard College and her Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from M.I.T. She does research in the field of computational biomolecular analysis and design and has a great interest in the teaching of chemistry.

The illustrator, Mary O’Reilly is a freelance science illustrator and adjunct faculty member in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of San Diego. She earned her B.S. in Chemistry from Purdue University and her Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry from M.I.T. Her “dual career” involves teaching and illustration.

As we learn, potential love is always nearby if the right forces, atoms, and chemicals come together, so don’t give up if this sounds like you…”I’d rather just end it all now with a pistol/Than live out the rest of my life in this crystal/…”

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