Cheese and Climate Change (Q&A with The Prof)

published on July 9, 2020

What is the best book for non chemiststo get a basic understanding ofchemistry and what is your favoritefiction book I have no idea which bookto recommend to you because books liketeachers some people get on really well

With one teachersome people prefer a different teacherso it's which author you relate to Ivery much like the book by Primo Laverycalled the periodic table it may notsuit everybody

I don't read very much fiction and if Ido read fiction I usually only read itonce what's the last fiction book youread the last fiction book I read was byOwen MatthewsI've forgotten its title it's a murder

Mystery set in a Russian town in the1919 50s when the h-bomb was beingconstructed there in your videos weoften see experiments fail but in afactory the same chemical reaction willbe flawlessly executed with perfect

Predictability why when we doexperiments we're doing them for thefirst time at least for us so there arelots of things we don't know they weremeant to put it off if you're building achemical factory you will put in a lot

Of chemical engineering you will knowall of the aspects of the reaction andyou've calculated the rates of reactionsand so on so you've done the experimentshundreds of times and you've got itreally to work working with so many

Different chemicals through the yearsI'm sure you've had a few scares but wasthere ever an incident when you weregenuinely fearful for your life no Ithink chemists have to work safelyI suppose the scariest

Incident they had was when I was astudent it's doing my doctorate and Iput five hundred pounds per square inchpressure of hydrogen gas by mistake intoa glass bulb and the bulb exploded andbits of glass were found all over my

Hair but fortunately I wasn't injured atall we were in safety specs in thosedays people who wore glasses were notgiven safety glasses so I actually gluedsome stud pieces onto one of my pairs ofglasses after that what is your best

Advice in teaching chemistry that willhelp me become an even better teacherfirst of all let me say that when I talkto professional chemists and ask themwhy did you become a chemist they nearlyalways say because I had an

Inspirational chemistry teacher and Ihad a great teacher called Tony RobertsI am Tony Roberts I taught Martinchemistry 50 years ago I behaved badlyin his class but he still inspired me soI think the most important thing for any

Sort of teaching is enthusiasm if youfind the subject boring heaven helpedthe pupils so I think you've got toconvey the idea that you think the workis interesting and you like it I wasonce lecturing to students about

Something I thought was really boringsubstitution in octahedral cobaltcomplexes the whole class was silent andI suddenly thought gosh they think it'sinteresting and I worked myself up intosuch the state of excitement that I

Couldn't do anything for the rest of themorning do you professor Polyakov whatis your favorite cheese I don't likeblue cheese very much but I like mostother cheese'sI once published a paper with my

Colleague George Davidson analyzingcheesein fact analyzing low-fat cheese andcomparing with normal cheese I was soembarrassed that I published the paperwith the word cheese in the title that I

Didn't put it in my CV for many manyyears well I thought it was not verydidn't sound very scientific what willyou do when you retire one can neverforesee the future but I'm not planningto retire immediately but who knows

What's going to happen to one in thefuturehow many periodic table ties do you haveI'm not sure because I have twocollections one at home and one here atthe University and the University and

The ties sometimes travel between thetwo I think it's more than a dozen Irarely wear a tie without the periodictable on it I've now even gone a reallydark one that is suitable for funeralsyou can't really see the elements very

Well but I know they're there I have atheory which might amuse some of youthat wearing a tie may help mitigateglobal warming because you see when youhave a tie it constrains your collar andyour neck so hot air gets trapped in

Your shirt so you feel warmer so you canturn the heating down so if you wear atie less co2 it's discharged in theatmosphere so save the planet and wear atie how do you relax in your free timesleep you go to the movies a lot don't

Youso I go to well my wife is very keen oncinema so we go quite a bit to thecinema and you probably know that mybrother is a movie director and writeryou can buy his DVDs on Amazon so I do

Enjoy going to cinema and my mother wasan actorthough she didn't perform very much butthere is a big tradition of performingin our family is it true that yousometimes leave when you're bored and go

And work out in the corridor though andleave your wife to watch on our own yesthe cinema has very good Wi-Fi and so ifthe film bores me or frightens me I goout and work on my computer a lot ofpeople asked about this what advances in

Chemistry will be most important forpreventing or mitigating climate changebesides wearing ties I think theimportant thing is to find ways ofproviding energy without generating co2or large amounts of co2 it is not just a

Question of chemistry because itinvolves a lot of engineering thechemistry may be the underlyingprinciple but getting it to work on alarge scale is definitely engineering soengineers and chemists have to work

Together the really important thingsthat need to be done is to learn how toharness the energy from the Sun reallyefficiently for example new catalysts tosplit water into hydrogen and oxygenusing sunlight then you can burn the

Hydrogen to fuel cars and other sorts oftransport then there is the question ofbatteries so you can store electricalenergy that you have generated withphotocellsmaking cheaper photocells that lasts

Longer that use all of the spectrum ofthe light from the Sun my hope is thatchemists are going to succeed if theydon't we'll all fry as the temperaturejust goes up and up in the Earth'satmosphere we had so many questions

About this I guess I better ask how doyou maintain your majestic hair how doyou prepare it what's your hair regimeso my hair is what I was born with and Idon't do very much apart fromoccasionally brushing it I haven't been

To a barbersince 1967 my wife cuts my hairoccasionally when she's persuaded methat it looks totally ridiculousyou

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