Nature Chemistry | The Sceptical Chymist

Almost Famous

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, I took a look at Wikipedia’s ‘List of Chemists’: all the Nobel laureates have entries (for example, EJ Corey, Barry Sharpless, Ahmed Zewail, etc.) and though the top of the page boldly claims ‘This is a list of famous chemists: (alphabetcal [sic] order),’ this is by no means a fleshed out list of ‘important’ chemists: Margaret Thatcher is on the list, but George Whitesides didn’t make the cut for some reason. (I don’t mean any disrespect to the former Prime Minister, but I don’t think many scientists think ‘oh yeah, she’s a chemist’ when they hear her name…)

Whether you like it or not, Wikipedia has become the first place many people look to find information (online). But the information on chemists isn’t up to snuff: as I mentioned, George Whitesides has an entry, but a number of other respected chemists in the same chemistry department don’t appear in Wikipedia (for example, Eric Jacobsen, Andrew Myers, Eugene Shakhnovich, and David Liu, just to name a few…)

So I had a thought – let’s flesh these Wikipedia entries out…

If you have time in the next week, add an entry for your Ph.D./post-doc supervisor, one of your co-workers (if you’re a professor), or someone whose work you’ve enjoyed reading for years. If they already have an entry, add some (truthful) information to it… And if you add their names to the ‘List of Chemists,’ don’t forget to put them in ‘alphabetcal’ order…


Joshua Finkelstein (Associate Editor, Nature)


  1. Report this comment

    Andre Herzog said:

    You are right Dr. Finkelstein, there are a plenty of absences in the list. No one can forgive for the absence of Robert Boyle, which honored this corner with his famous book.