Monday, December 19, 2005

More on John Thomas and epsilon-caprolactam

I was at Cambridge University last week presenting some research that i'm involved with at the moment and Sir John Thomas (he of the chem geek post last week) gave the after dinner speech. The man is literally encyclopedic when it comes to catalysis and it is quite daunting to see him comment on every single talk given at a conference where you can barely understand half the talks (getting biologists and catalytic chemists to understand each other is a tall order).
Anyway, he commented on the paper that i mentioned and went on to say that he originally had it titled 'better synthesis of epsilon-caprolactam' or some-such but one of his colleagues in Egypt asked him what the heck epsilon-C was and why should we be interested and when JT told him that it was the major precursor to nylon, the guy told him 'then put that in the title!'. Even though the work had been mentioned previously, this paper had been commented on and mentioned in the popular press all around the world.
Just goes to show, even in the sciences, perception can often be more powerful than the message.


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