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A scientific account on art and everyday beauty
Deborah García Bello gifts us with a work that reflects on beauty, and unveils how to experience it to its fullest, greater intensity by using scientific knowledge.
The author invites us to a walk through everyday beauty, where we will find out how art, the beauty of a sunset or natural phenomena and chemistry are closely related.
“The squawking of seagulls, the light pink skies that anticipate a day of sunshine, the smell of old books, the black and white photographs of our grandparents, the sea, the bloom of the turnip tops, my mum applying her lipstick, the fashion magazines of the 1960s, my neighbourhood, the urban flowers, the smell of tyres, a necklace of lapis lazuli or a school desk with names engraved in it. Thanks to chemistry I have kept at awe my amusement for everyday beauty, and I have learnt to savour quietly the splendour of precious things, from the happiness of a normal day to the fascination for a piece of art. Knowing your chemistry is like walking through life with atomic scale eyes. All the beauty, the goodness and the truly incomparable things of daily life look clearer through scientific knowledge.
Deborah García Bello, an awarded chemist and popular scientist invites with The Beauty of Chemistry to enjoy science, to unlearn the flawed perception that it is an aseptic, strict and sterile discipline, and to observe its beauty in our daily life.
“The biggest flower of the bunch was always a taraxacum officinale, a dens leonis or dandelion, when the flowers are still golden yellow. Strictly speaking dandelions are not flowers but ‘inflorescence in capitulum’, a cluster of tiny yellow blossoms gathered around a flower. This is how they look before the seeds form and the flower becomes a receptacle with the cypselae exposed, like minute umbrellas with their gabardine ripped off by the wind.
After blooming over a couple of days, the yellow flower head closes and the seeds ripen inside the locked head. As the seeds form, the stalk of the flower extends higher, so that it can reach the breeze that spreads them around. The seeds have bristles that operate like parachutes and float in the wind. I like dens leonis best when they look like yellow flowers, when they are disguising themselves, resisting the instinct of people blowing to spread their seeds. They go unnoticed in their yellow disguise, like flowers neglected by the senses. These are flowers that most of us see, but don’t look at. My grannie used to put one of those Sunday bouquets in a glass of water on top of the fridge. In mid-March, when the bristles started to bloom, we used to spread all the yellow flowers in every little vase in the house. The air got heavy with a tight, green smell resembling wood or chlorophyll. That was the announcement of the imminent arrival of spring.”