Friday, February 15, 2013

Podcast: Dr. Rubidium, See Arr Oh and Chemjobber at the movies

In the second portion of our epic podcast with Dr. Rubidium, See Arr Oh and I talk about Hollywood, movies, TV and the portrayal of chemists:

(Now traditional semi-apology: there's no introduction or conclusion. Ooops.)

0:00: When is Annie Dookhan going to be on CSI?
1:36: NCIS and Abby's degrees
2:35: Agent Scully, Agent Mulder and Hollywood's degree inflation
3:50: There's no time for continuing education on CSI, much less paperwork!
6:33: Where did Walter White get his degree?
7:10: Dr. Christmas Jones and her tank top of power
9:24: Dr. George Henry, ER's M.D/Ph.D. (played by Chad Lowe)
10:20: Where are the lab support folks? It's all Quincy's fault.
12:30: Dr. Rubidium loves Jason Statham
14:19: The Joker almost made SAO not want to be a chemist
15:16: The EH&S aspects of action movies
16:06: Crime scene technique, including "the handkerchief of magic"
17:45: Chemicals don't look right in the movies
19:00: Labs don't look right in the movies
19:55: The process chemistry of movie toxic gases
20:30: Skyfall and the cyanide capsule of doom
22:30: Things don't explode that way!
25:30: Suspension of disbelief
26:45: Scientific consulting on movies
29:45: Casting R.B. Woodward and Rosalind Franklin in the movies

Tune in next Wednesday for Dr. Rubidium's thoughts on the Annie Dookhan case.


  1. Horizon (Nova) Did a feature-length drama-documentary called "Life Story" about the discovery of DNA structure in which Rosalind Franklin was played by the English actress Juliet Stevenson. Jeff Goldblum played Jim Watson, and Tim Piggot-Smith played Francis Crick. Apparently Crick was not impressed, although I thought Piggot-Smith looked and sounded like him. It was a very good movie, in my opinion. I think it's available on Youtube now.

    1. A classic. I must have watched that about 10 times in high school and undergrad...

  2. Other favourites of mine are "Breaking the Code"with Derek Jacobi as Alan Turing, and "Copenhagen" with Stephen Rae as Bohr and Daniel Craig as Heisenberg.
    "Glory enough for all" about the discovery of Insulin was also pretty good as I remember, as was "Breaking the Mould", which gave Florey a fairer deal than usual.
    A cringemaking documentary starring Jack "the Ripper" Baldwin is available on Youtube. It's a "cutting edge" documentary from 1986, with such immortal lines as "Professor Jack Baldwin is a man who likes to be in control of his destiny". Well, quite.

  3. Breaking the Code and Copenhagen are both great. There's also a fantastic, multiple part BBC series named "Oppenheimer" from the 80s which is a must-see. Sam Waterston as Oppenheimer is outstanding. It's available on DVD.

  4. Loving these podcasts. You forgot to mention CSI Miami with their infamous IR/MS spectra rotating permanently on the computer screens.

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  6. I'm envisioning the Joker as a grad student. "Do you want to know how I got these scars? I was making these azide complexes when..."

  7. PBS Nova did a documentary on Percy Julian (first synthesis of physostigmine, important work on industry processes for progesterone, testosterone, and cortisone) called "Forgotten Genius" which was quite good. Of course his life was probably more interesting than the average chemist since he was one of the first African-Americans to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry and he experienced various types of discrimination including several attempted bombings of his home.


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20