Redox Anyone?

So many possibilities this week when it comes to enjoying a glass. Unity Day, United Nations Day, birthdays for Pablo Picasso, Kevin Kline and Samantha Bee.  The teleportation of Spanish soldier Gil Perez from the Philippines to Mexico in 1593. The first picture of earth from space, taken in 1946. Notorious Yankee Billy Martin punching out a marshmallow salesman.

As wonderful as all these events are and truly deserving of a moment of respect, we have decided to give our nod (and glass) of appreciation this entire week to the week. That is to say, International Chemistry Week.

Yes, chemistry. We apologize to anyone who might be having flashbacks to chemistry class, staring at the list of chemicals and trying to conjure up the proper equation for the reaction. We know there are entire hordes of people who shiver at the very thought of a trying to decipher what C8H10N4O2 looks like.

Unfortunately, chemistry has taken a bit of a beating in popular culture these days, not just among high schoolers. Chemistry is what big, bad companies with nefarious plans engage in. It is the evil science that brought us PCB’s, CFC’s, and oceans filled with plastic. It’s the reason Florida’s once pristine waterways are buried in sludge. There are holes in the ozone and acid in the rain thanks to chemistry.

Perhaps it would be better to say that chemistry conducted by humans can be bad. But chemistry itself can be very good. Chemistry gives us photosynthesis, blue skies, wine and beer, the smell of roses, the softness of silk, and the fundamental building blocks of all life. Chemistry is life. Without chemistry, planet Earth would be one giant mud puddle devoid of even the most basic living creatures.

Humans being what they are, they often unleash their latest creation without fully understanding the consequences. And okay, yes, sometimes the long-term consequences are hard to foresee. Other times, humans have simply chosen to ignore the warning and hope for the best. Hence the bad reputation that chemistry has been saddled with. But that doesn’t mean one should give up hope or throw up one’s hands in frustration. There’s still a lot chemistry can teach us and a lot that chemistry provides us in our everyday lives.

Including, as we mentioned above, the glory that is wine.

So if you happen to meet Kevin Kline this week or if you find yourself standing before The Old Guitarist, then a nod of appreciation is due. But don’t forget to acknowledge the amazing and glorious world around you and the chemistry that makes it all possible.

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