From Norman Nicolson

The excellent article on serendipity missed one important event (Chemistry World, June 2006, p32). A chemist working for ICI wondered what used could be made of the blue sludge that had to be cleaned out of the bottom of the phthalimide reactor. 

This was made of iron and the chemist was able to produce a blue pigment by recrystallising it from sulfuric acid.

Eventually a copper centered ring structure, phthalocyanine blue, was developed under the trade name of Monastral. This and the halogen modified green went on to become some of the finest weather and light fast pigments on the market: all a worthless blue waste sludge.

N Nicolson CChem MRSC
By email


From Clive Delmonte

I could not agree with Derek Nonhebel (Chemistry World, July 2006 p22) that the format and content of Chemistry World represents a dumbing down compared with Chemistry in Britain.

Chemistry World   is far more alive, alert to chemical change, development and opportunity, colourful, imaginative and, crucially, far more likely to engage the interest of the next generation of young chemists at a time when interest in chemistry as a career is still waning.

There are many journals and magazines from which university students can develop their research skills, including Chemistry World.

I too have been an RSC fellow for many decades and recalling how things used to be just isn’t good enough.

C S Delmonte CChem FRSC
By email


From Phil Wills

I am sorry that Derek Nonhebel see Chemistry World (CW) as a dumbing down of Chemistry in Britain (July 2006, p22). On the contrary, I believe it is a great improvement and always covers the wide range of applications of chemistry (mine is clinical biochemistry) with great clarity and adequate depth.

To read CW   is like being amongst friends who share their specialities with everyone. I do not think it needs to be any more esoteric than it already is.

If there is an article that provikes students to research and oral presentations then this is a bonus. There are many specialist journals for this purpose. Please do not change anything. I believe Chemistry World   has the best balance.

P D Wills CChem MRSC
By email


From John Steggles

I can’t let Derek Nonhebel’s remark go unchallenged (Chemistry World, July 2006, p22). For me it has been a breath of fresh air compared with the old, dull journal. Most members work in industry and are applied chemists, not academics. We don’t want stuff that is ready to serve to undergraduates.

Chemistry in Britain seemed to rely each month on two or three outpourings from budding PhDs practising to write articles. Now the magazine is like the RSC itself, livelier than I can ever remember in my 51 years of corporate membership. true, in my early Royal Institute of Chemistry days there were issues that were worth keeping but my retirement is enlivened every month.

J S Steggles CChem FRSC


From John Cannell

Recently I observed an interesting phenomenon of domestic chemistry which I cannot really explain. I repaired a white ceramic dinner plate with Araldite [approximately equal quantities of bisphenol A-epichlorhydrin resin and N -(3-dimethylaminopropyl)-1,3-propylenediamine hardener]. This was allowed to set for 24 hours and then air baked at 100?C for one hour. 

The repair was successful but, on washing the plate in a dishwasher, the glue line and some previously invisible smears and fingerprints became bright blue. The dishwasher detergent was labelled to contain over 30 per cent phosphate and 5-15 per cent ’oxygen-based bleaching agent’ as well as surfactant and enzymes. 

The colour is a clear and quite intense French blue and has resisted further heating and dishwasher treatment without change so far. I have not tested its UV stability. 

My own knowledge lies in inorganics, metals, electroplating and such areas and my organic chemistry is very rusty.  

Can any Chemistry World  reader tell me what is the likely chemistry of my blue pigment? 

J F Cannell CChem MRSC

Byfield, UK


From Paul Brisow

The Chemistry World  editorial was quite right to say that plastic bags are a mixed blessing, and that we need to use them better, and less (Chemistry World, July 2006, p2). 

Not mentioned was the widespread re-use of plastic bags for household rubbish. I re-use all of my supermarket bags, often after re-use protecting car carpets from my muddy walking boots. 

But most important, we need to get what energy we can from all our burnable waste, most of which is assorted and contains non-recyclable plastics, by using it as fuel in power stations.  

This ensures we get all the benefit we can from the original fossil fuel, and do not leave a nasty legacy of methane oozing from landfill for centuries. 

P A Bristow CChem FRSC
Kendal, UK  


From John Leisten

’I feel sorry for people who don’t know anything about chemistry. They are missing an important source of happiness.’ So said Linus Pauling, and if we notice too many people to be sorry for, it is surely because introductory chemistry teaching gives barely a hint of the great subject we all know.  

As a university teacher I felt, with many others, that more could be done for the subject in schools, and that feeling has hardened on retirement because I have been able to try out different ideas. In fact, 17 successive years of voluntary teaching in primary schools has led to teaching that differs from the usual. 

Colleagues have encouraged me to write sample lessons for fellow chemists to see, because - good or bad - children’s early impressions will affect chemistry in the years to come.  

Without firm advocacy by the chemical community there is little hope of a major change in the chemistry taught at schools.  

The first-year course on my website is written for home teaching. Readers with some time to spare and an eager young learner are invited to try it out. 

J H A Leisten CChem FRSC
Queensland, Australia