Schwarcz To Share 'Fascinating' Science During Forum

Oct. 19, 2009
SHSU Media Contacts: Jennifer Gauntt

Joe Schwarcz, bestselling author and director of the Office for Science and Society at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, will bring his unique take on everyday science to the SHSU campus as part of the Bearkats Read to Succeed Author’s Forum Oct. 26-27.

Schwarcz’s book, “Fly in the Ointment: 70 Fascinating Commentaries on the Science of Everyday Life,” was the second selection for the Bearkats Read to Succeed program, the common reader program for all incoming freshmen.

The main event for the Bearkats Read to Succeed program, the Author’s Forum is designed to enhance the experience and showcase the wide appeal of the book, according to Keri Rogers, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs for Student Success Initiatives.

“He talks about everyday things in science that are amazing, questionable, and sometimes changing,” said Keri Rogers, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs.

“His topics are fascinating and range from aspartame to aphrodisiacs, plastic wrap to pesticides, and bathtub rings to baldness. He talks about real science, baloney science, and everything in between,” she said. “He helps us learn to make more informed conclusions about scientific claims.”

The forum will kick off on Monday with one of three presentations on “Science and the Paranormal” from 1-2 p.m. in Lowman Student Center Room 320.

The lecture examines paranormal phenomena and describes how many of the effects can be explained by perfectly "natural" means, including demonstrations aimed at increasing the awareness of the need to evaluate "paranormal" phenomena by critical scientific methods, according to Rogers.

From 2:30-3:30 p.m., Schwarcz will discuss the history of forensic science and some famous cases, as well as analyze several well-known literature and movie thrillers from the chemist's perspective, during “Crime, Science and Literature,” in LSC Room 320.

That evening, the chemist will give a keynote address on “The Magic of Chemistry,” at 8 p.m. in the LSC Ballroom.

A “unique stage show,” “The Magic of Chemistry” combines chemical demonstrations, slide projections, music and “good old fashioned stage magic.”

“To the uninitiated it is a glimpse into the wonders of chemistry; to the expert it is a novel approach to the presentation of an ancient and basic science,” the address description said.

The lecture will be followed by a book signing and reception, also in the ballroom.

Tuesday’s activities will begin with another keynote address, on “Alternative Medicine: Sense or Nonsense,” from 9:30-11 a.m. in the LSC Theater, followed by two more presentations of “Science and the Paranormal,” at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. in LSC Room 320.

In addition to “Fly in the Ointment,” Schwarcz is the author of the bestselling books “An Apple a Day” and “Brain Fuel: 199 Mind Expanding Inquiries into the Science of Everyday Life.”

He also serves as a professor of chemistry at McGill University; writes a weekly column in the Montreal Gazette called “The Right Chemistry;” and hosts the “Dr. Joe Show” on Montreal’s CJAD and Toronto’s CFRB radio stations.

All sessions are open to members of the university and local communities.

For more information or a detailed schedule of events, visit


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