The second post I wrote for this blog was partly to explain the title:
“Why Speakeasy Science? Well, first because I just wrote a book, The Poisoner’s Handbook, which is set in Jazz-Age New York, which was home to some 30,000 speakeasies. Also I like the historical feel of the name. I’ve always been interested in the intersection of science and culture and I find moments in history, where those two forces pull at each other, to be wonderfully illuminating. Speakeasy itself appeals to my sense of word play – I like the idea of speaking easily about science. And finally – some science stories are so good that they can even light up a bar conversation.”
But, of course, I also gave it a subtitle “a blog about culture and chemistry” which has allowed me to not only write about historical poisonings – the mysterious illness of William Blake in the 19th century, the death by gold overdose of Diane de Portiers in the 16th century – but to explore chemistry in today’s culture as well. For the past few weeks, that’s meant exploring the chemistry of an oil spill, the dismaying toxicity of chemical dispersants, the easily debunked-claims about underwater oil plumes made by BP head Tony Hayward.
But today I decided to treat myself to something more fun. Yes, it’s all about me – although not to the Hayward-like extent of going on national television to complain that I wanted my old life back.
No, I just thought it would be fun to run a giveaway, similar to one I did earlier to promote National Poison Prevention Week.
So, I’m going to give away five free copies of the audiobook of The Poisoner’s Handbook (worth $35 each!). All you have to do to enter the giveaway is post a comment to this blog suggesting an idea – about chemistry and culture – or just a good story. On Monday, I’ll pick my five favorite ideas – yes, this is totally subjective – and if you’re a winner, I’ll contact you directly for shipping directions.
Just to let you know, this will be the last such giveaway because I’ll have run through my store of audiobooks.
But I’d be delighted to hear your ideas. Send as many as you like. I’ll look forward to reading them. Even if they’re about oil spills.