McGill Professor demystifies the magic of chemistry

Dr. Joe Schwarcz, professor of chemistry and director of the McGill University’s Office for Science and Society presented a public lecture at the Okanagan College, Vernon Campus on Feb 10, 2011. This talk was organised by the Science in Society Speaker Series (a joint project by Okanagan Science Center and the Okanagan College) and was in celebration of the International Year of Chemistry, 2011 and the Vernon winter carnival, “Cooking with Carnival”.

Dr. Schwarcz addressed in his talk such questions as:  Why for years and years there were no red M&M’s or how do they get that maraschino cherry to float in the syrup inside a Cherry Blossom?  What is the link between the bombardier beetle at the V-2 rocket?  Why does popcorn pop?  Why are there holes in Swiss cheese?  Have you ever considered why there are no nuts or grapes in Grape Nuts Flakes or why witches supposedly use broomsticks as a method of transportation?  Why did Van Gogh mangle his ear?  Were Agatha Christie’s accounts of dastardly poisonings based on real science?  Can chocolate really make you fall in love?  After this presentation you’ll wonder no more!

Professor Schwarcz is well known for his informative and entertaining public lectures on topics ranging from the chemistry of love to the science of aging.  He has received numerous awards for teaching chemistry and for interpreting science for the public.  Among these are the Royal Society of Canada’s McNeil Award and the American Chemical Society’s prestigious Grady-Stack Award.  His latest awards include the Royal Canadian Institute’s Sandford Fleming Medal, the Society of Chemical Industry’s Purvis Award and the Chemical Institute of Canada’s Montreal Medal.  Dr. Schwarcz was also awarded an honorary Doctorate degree by Athabasca University.

“Dr. Joe” has appeared hundreds of times on the Canadian Discovery Channel, TV Ontario, Global Television, CBC-TV, CTV-TV and various radio stations.  He hosts the “Dr. Joe Show” on Montreal’s CJAD every Sunday from 3-4 PM.  He also hosted “Science To Go,” a series on the Discovery Channel that focused on common foods.  Dr. Schwarcz writes a weekly newspaper column in the Montreal Gazette entitled “The Right Chemistry” as well as a monthly column in Canadian Chemical News.  He was the chief consultant on the Reader’s Digest best sellers “Foods That Harm, Foods That Heal” and “The Healing Power of Vitamins, Minerals and Herbs” and contributed the chemistry chapter to the best-selling “Mental Floss.”  His books “Radar, Hula Hoops and Playful Pigs,” “The Genie in the Bottle,” “That’s The Way The Cookie Crumbles,” “Dr. Joe and What You Didn’t Know,” “The Fly in the Ointment,” “Let Them Eat Flax,” “Brain Fuel,” “An Apple A Day,” “Science, Sense and Nonsense,” and his latest, “Dr. Joe’s Brain Sparks” have all been best sellers.  The books have been translated into seven languages and are sold around the world.

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