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Science History Podcast

Jul 11, 2021

The history of science is punctuated by both the greatest achievements and the greatest tragedies of human endeavors. The development of organic chemistry illustrates this dichotomy, as some scientists improved the human condition while others facilitated the horrors of genocide. The guise of chemistry also has served as a useful front for fraudsters. With us to illuminate chemical accidents, brilliant discoveries, searing evils, and the use and misuse of organic chemistry is Joe Schwarcz. Joe was born in Hungary in 1947. His family escaped to Austria during the 1956 Hungarian uprising, and from there immigrated to Quebec. Joe received BS and PhD degrees in chemistry from McGill University in 1969 and 1973. He held various faculty positions before joining the faculty at McGill in 1980. Joe is the Director of McGill’s Office for Science and Society, which has the mission of separating sense from nonsense. He is well known for his informative and entertaining public lectures on topics ranging from the chemistry of food to the mind-body connection. Joe has received numerous awards for teaching chemistry and for interpreting science for the public. For example, he was the first non-American to win the American Chemical Society’s Grady-Stack Award for demystifying chemistry, and he was awarded the “Montreal Medal”, which is the Canadian Chemical Institute’s premier recognition of lifetime contributions to chemistry in Canada. Joe has hosted a radio show on science for forty years, has appeared hundreds of times on television, writes a regular newspaper column, and is the author of eighteen best-selling books.