The ¨Alchemy of Us¨ is a wonderful read that should be on every chemistry teacher´s bookshelf. Ainissa Ramirez has crafted a great story book that introduces the non scientist reader to the idea of material science. Does material science influence people or do people influence material science? The answer, I believe is yes.
There are eight chapters titled interact, connect, convey, capture, see, share, discover and think. Ainissa Ramirez, in the spirit of ¨The Disappearing Spoon¨ provides the discovery, the people, the context and the events that shape the world in a way that captures both the reader´s imagination and interest. I would love to delve into my favorite chapter, but that would be impossible. They were all my favorite chapters. What does Arnold the Clock, quartz crystals, Albert Einstein and Louis Armstrong all have in common (I bet you thought you had it until I tossed in the Louis Armstrong reference)? How could the technology behind the polaroid camera possibly be connected to civil rights and South Africa? What does the optic nerve discovered in 2002 and Thomas Edison share? Stories of Alexander Flemming, German optics and casserole dishes are in the same chapter. Yes, there is a reason and if you are like me, you will be stunned to find out what it is.
The first and second questions from my students each year are, "Why do I need to know this?" and "Why should I care?". The ¨Alchemy of Us¨ will go a long way to answer both of those questions with engaging and enlightening stories. It will be by my side as a reference for the start of the school year and throughout. If you plan to discuss anything about the topic of material science in your class, this book is a must have. Even if you do not, it is still a great read and a great opportunity to start conversations with our students.