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January 21, 2008
Volume 86, Number 3
p. 72

Science Friction with Bob Wolke

Heather Mull
Bob Wolke

You may have heard of a television personality named Oprah. (To protect her privacy, I shall not reveal her last name.)

One of her periodic amusements is to tap a book with her enchanted scepter, whereupon it instantly becomes a million-plus best seller, and its author a multimillionaire. Needless to say, she has not blessed any of my books.

Oprah also likes to consecrate certain commercial products as her "Favorite Things," the sales of which immediately go through the roof. (Midas, eat your heart out!)

Although I do not have Oprah's 49 million disciples, I deem it my duty to provide a similar service for my readers. I shall therefore occasionally feature a few of "Bob's Favorite Things"—commercial products that may be of interest to chemists and other scientists.

Youth Rings From an advertisement in Popular Science, November 2007: "Allow humans to stay physically young forever. Wear these magnetic rings during sleep and it will reduce your age. You will start looking younger everyday [sic]."

Don't sleep too long, or you'll be late for school.

Crystal Clear From another advertisement in Popular Science, November 2007: "Our home water machine is the only product in the world that increases blood flow by rapidly reheating water 100s of times/gal, breaking down the hydrogen bonds so your body doesn't have to. ... Instead of a 104o hydrogen bond angle, [this water] is 114°! ... When you open up the bond angle your blood can circulate more oxygen coming into your lungs. ... Shipped in a glass bottle, corked and shrink-wrapped like champagne! ... Just add a few drops to whatever you are drinking."

Makes me wonder what they have been drinking. Shrink-wrapped champagne, perhaps?

Eisch Breathable Glass Crystal Stemware From www.mercerimports.com: "This new technology allows the wine to actually breathe thru [sic] the glass aerating the wine to help open up the bouquet and flavors."

From www.bedbathandbeyond.com: "Breathable Glass??? crystal stemware from Eisch . . . undergo [sic] a unique oxygenization [sic] treatment that strongly accelerates the reaction of the wine with atmospheric oxygen."

From an article on Eisch Breathable Glass in US Airways Magazine, October 2007: "In order for most wines to be fully enjoyed, they must be in contact with the atmosphere outside their bottle."

I can't disagree with that statement. I have never been able to fully enjoy a wine while it is inside the bottle.

Zoological and Biological Remedies From an advertisement in Homeopathy Today, December 2007: "Old-fashioned Hahnemanian preparation of Mother Tinctures. All snake remedies are manufactured from authentic snake venom. ...Bushmaster [for] hot flashes, sore throat ... Cobra [for] dry cough, dependent on cardiac lesions, acute and chronic endocarditis. ... Rattlesnake [for] bleeding, swelling or hemorrhaging of orifices...."

What do you recommend for chronic gullibility?

Magnetico Sleep Pad From an advertisement in Alternative Medicine, January 2008: "Magnetico has designed the only magnetic sleep pad that will give you a pure unidirectional negative magnetic field. ... Because the Magnetico Sleep Pad is placed between the box spring and mattress (or any other spacer over 4 inches), you are not exposed to the unwanted positive (+) spikes. The result is a pure negative (-) magnetic field that significantly supplements the Earth's reduced field."

Egad! The magnetic monopole has at last been discovered!

... And finally, here is Bob's Least Favorite Thing:

Books by the Foot From an advertisement in the New Yorker, Dec. 17, 2007: "For interior designers. Starting at $6.99 per foot. Numerous styles—corporate, academic, by color...."

Not counting the foreign translations, the six books I have written occupy seven and one-quarter inches of shelf space. My entire literary output is therefore worth $4.22.

We are not amused.

Bob Wolke can be reached at sciencefriction.wolke@gmail.com.

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Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2009 American Chemical Society


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