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Review Komisch Alles Chemisch

Mai-Thi Nguyen-Kim is a YouTuber, Podcaster, and science communicator in Germany. She works with WDR amongst others and has just won the Hanns-Joachim-Friedrichs award last weekend together with Harald Lesch. “Komisch, alles chemisch” is her first book, in which she explains parts of her daily life using school-grade chemistry, making plenty use of personal anecdotes and jokes.

In her book, Mai strongly advocates for science communication and presents the scientific methods to her readership. She familiarises the reader with science, including positive values, but also challenges such as the replication crisis, in particular within the psychology discipline. The insights in chemistry are a nice reminder of high-school chemistry. She applies them to cooking, baking, drinking, and derives tips and hints out of it.

I found some memorable quotes in the book, for example:

  • “Stop Chemism!”
  • “See how important communication of science is?”
  • “What’s in it for me?” (Ranga Yogeshwar)
  • “Chemistry is EVERYTHING!!!”

Maybe the education system should introduce science courses into the school curricula, so more people understand the basic scientific approach and the academic system.

The writing in Mai’s book aligns with my type of humour. It is the right amount of nerdiness and self-depreciation, sprinkled with wholesome anecdotes. The book includes funny illustrations, while the writing style is conversational and ordinary. Hence, the book is quick to digest, but does not include any fancy literary writing—which presumably wasn’t the goal anyway. For a future revision, I suggest to label the parts or components of the molecules that are illustrated, which would have been helpful.

I support the “MAI MISSION!” (towards more communication and appreciation of science in the general populace)