Note: To protect the privacy of our members, e-mail addresses have been removed from the archived messages. As a result, some links may be broken.

Lesson Plans

FYI: impressionism and chemistry

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Sears, Ellen (
Thu, 15 May 97 09:57:00 PDT

The Courier Journal
Louisville, KY
May 14, 1997

"An Evening with the Nobel Laureates was part of the Intel International
Science and Engineering Fair, at which about 1,200 high school students from
about 40 countries are competing for $1.5 million in scholarships and other
prizes, including a trip to Stockholm Sweden, for this year's Nobel

Dudley Herschbach, a Harvard researcher who won the Nobel in chemistry in
1986 for his work on reaction dynamics, said he hadn't even heard of
chemistry until he had to take it in his junior year. Then, he couldn't
figure out the idea behind the course.
Finally, years later, he decided that chemistry is like a beautiful
impressionistic painting that must be seen from the right distance.
"Physicists stand too close" in a desire to break everything down to
its most basic level, ..."Biologists stand too far away - they don't
want to get into too much detail."
Chemists, of course, pick just the right perspective - but even then
that keeps changing, he said. The problem in schools, he said, is that
kids are raced through the impressionism museum "too fast, and the
distance isn't quite right - so they all look like abstract jackson