Thursday, March 17, 2011

Open to the elements

Attending a planning meeting for the forthcoming Elements event at the Wellcome Institute on 8 April prompts me to advertise it. I can confidently say with no false modesty that I am among the very least of the attractions (I’ll be speaking, briefly, about mercury and arsenic in pigments). The artists’ suppliers Cornelissen will be bringing beautiful jarloads of the stuff. Nick Lane will be talking about oxygen, Andy Meharg about arsenic, and Andrew Szydlo will be demonstrating how Cornelius Drebbel made his submarine.  Andrea Sella will be presenting his mercury show. There will be an oxygen bar where you can inhale the stuff, and an iodine ‘wet play’ area. And you can apparently be cured of syphilis with an inhalation of mercury. Sort of. Andrea has arranged it with Hugh Aldersey-Williams, whose book on the elements has acted as a catalyst for the event. It will be mad and fun (and free!), and like real chemistry should be if it was allowed. If you live in or near London, get there early! 

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