Penn State

Michael Hickner - Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Penn State University Park

Book Title: Oxygen

Author: Carl Djerassi and Roald Hoffmann

Book Description:

Polymers have given me a career, but I have had a long love affair with chemistry.  I chose this book because it intersects my life in many ways.  The heroes and history of chemistry shape my dreams and inspire me to wonder about the natural world and be a better scientist.  This book specifically deals with discovery performed by real people with all of their moral dilemmas and personal interactions.  A very human tale about chemistry.  Djerassi and Hoffmann are modern luminaries of chemistry who have turned their attention to literary pursuits and proved that there is life and truth and beauty beyond the lab.  Djerassi was an undergraduate at Kenyon College, a small liberal arts school in Ohio where my wife went to college and where we were married on April 24, 2004.  Our kids have visited Kenyon with us and have sat in the grass on campus and looked up at the big trees.  We still talk about that perfect day in 2004.  Without my wife and my sons, Gabe and Nat, I would have a very tenuous claim on anything meaningful in this world.  They have really given me life in the fullest sense.  Yes, when I first laid eyes on Kathy there was chemistry at that moment as well.  Finally, this short paperback book is also a reminder that sometimes great and inspirational things come in small, humble packages – like a funny play about chemistry.


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