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The Chemistry of Hope

Updated on December 15, 2014

The Hope in Chemistry

When asked to consider "The Chemistry of Hope" I had to take a step back because my mind was flooded with concepts. On the most fundamental level, hope and research are linked.

After a bit of thought (and discussion with my physicist fiancé), we realized that hope really defines who we are as graduate students and researchers. Scientists are frequently depicted as intellectual, cool, unemotional people who deal with numbers and big words and little else. In truth, the life of a scientist revolves around hope and imagination. Hope is composed of dreams, optimism, belief and imagination. These are all components that are essential for any researcher. You have to have the imagination to approach a problem, the belief that you can answer the question and the optimism that no matter how many times you may fail, you will prevail in the end.

In this lens, I will explore the junction of chemistry (and science as a whole) with hope.


Merriam-Webster's Definition

1. "to desire with expectation of obtainment"

2. "to expect with confidence"

How Chemistry Defines Hope

If you were to consider the composition of hope, what would come to mind? If this were an organic chemistry problem (I can hear the groans coming from the class) we would take a look at the final result (in this case hope) and would be able to use whatever we could think of to make it. It isn't what you start with that is important, it is the process of how you reach the end.

If you were to break hope apart into it's most fundamental components, you would find optimism at the center suspended in a solution of dreams. If you stir in an aliquot of imagination, suddenly things start bubbling out. The final ingredient in our synthesis is belief. With this all mixed together, you have hope.


Merriam-Webster's Definition

1. "a science that deals with the composition, structure, and properties of substances and with the transformations that they undergo"

2. "the composition and chemical properties of a substance"

How Hope Defines Chemistry

As scientists, we strive to see how the world works. But in order to get funding to obtain this fundamental understanding, we need to have some ideas about how it could work. You stake your reputation on your scientific hypotheses, and then hope that you are right (or at least not completely wrong.)

The percentage of potential drugs that are discovered in a laboratory that end up making it all the way through the clinical trial process is minuscule. In each case, researchers hope that the tests will show that the compound is not toxic and it does provide a health benefit. You do have to acknowledge that you could be wrong, but in order to spend time and money on a problem you have to hope that your hypothesis is correct.

Researchers have to keep their fingers crossed

Researchers have to keep their fingers crossed
Researchers have to keep their fingers crossed

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"Chemistry is the friend, not the enemy of man. It is mankind's greatest hope. We who are the members of this profession owe it to ourselves and to the world at large to see that the layman appreciates and fully understands that chemistry is a constructive not a destructive force; that it is the hope and promise of a better world to come."

During my thoughts of the Chemistry of Hope, I came across the following article: Chemistry - The Hope of Man published just after the conclusion of the second world war. Unfortunately, you won't be able to read the whole article without access to a university's journal subscriptions (unless you buy the article.)

Marcus Welby, M.D. - The Chemistry of Hope

Episode Summary:Pacho McGuerney's parents, refuse to allow Dr. Welby to tell their teen-aged son that he has leukemia.

The Chemistry Of Hope
The Chemistry Of Hope

Show Synopsis “The show is about doctors Marcus Welby, a general practitioner and Steven Kiley, Welby's young assistant. The two try to treat people as individuals in an age of specialized medicine and uncaring doctors.”


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Science requires a lot of waiting and you will have no idea if the experiment you set up is working in that time. Now, it can be really frustrating when you are waiting for something to happen, so sometimes you make up little rituals to help you along. I have been known to talk to my reactions and encourage them through it (Come on, you can do it. Go enzyme, go!)

In graduate school, your grades aren't important. The only thing that matters is the question, "Is this publishable?" You hope to get a result that your PI (principal investigator) will allow you to write up and submit to a journal. After all, your publication record is what you will be based on for the rest of your career in science. Time and time again, you set up the same experiment to have it fail. But you keep doing it, waiting the long hours for yet another useless result. Why do we we put up with this? Because we have hope. We believe in the question, and hope that the technique we are attempting will give us some answers to that question.

On Dec 13, 2010 DecoratingforEvents wrote a beautiful review of this lens. Thank you for the support!

This lens earned a purple star on 12/22/2010!

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    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      7 years ago from Colorado

      This is such a creative theme for a lens. It could be a dissertation topic. Congrats on your Purple Star and on completing your Ph.D.!

    • JeremiahStanghini profile image


      7 years ago

      Pretty cool to get a purple star for your entry in the Jenga game. :-)

      With Love and Gratitude,


    • Lady Gotrocks profile image

      Lady Gotrocks 

      7 years ago

      What a wonderful lens! Blessed

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This lens shows how a scientists life is more romantic than meets the eye.

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      7 years ago from UK

      I haven't yet caught up on all the earlier Jenga tower lenses but must make the time to do so. This is a most unique and inspiring take on the mindset of the scientist.

    • sorana lm profile image

      sorana lm 

      7 years ago

      Congratulations on the Purple star! Well, Chemistry is everywhere and in everything around us.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 

      7 years ago

      Well-done on your Purple Star!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      The chemistry of hope is what keeps all Christians going: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." That, to me, is what God-chemistry does for us. Great lens--thanks and best of luck with your chronic fatigue health issues.

    • ChemKnitsBlog2 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank you! 4 weeks from yesterday.... I'm only freaking out a little bit!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Good luck with your defense! We're rooting for you ;)

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 

      7 years ago

      Very interesting, and well done lens


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very interesting read, thank you.

    • Board-Game-Brooke profile image

      C A Chancellor 

      7 years ago from US/TN

      Interesting lens! Here's an extra blessing to tide you into January... Blessed by a SquidAngel! :-)

    • Wbisbill LM profile image

      Barbara Isbill 

      7 years ago from New Market Tn 37820

      Congrats! A well-written, informative and great lens. BIG thumbs up!

    • Wbisbill LM profile image

      Barbara Isbill 

      7 years ago from New Market Tn 37820

      Congrats! A well-written, informative and great lens. BIG thumbs up!

    • profile image

      the777group lm 

      7 years ago

      @nightbear lm: What an interesting and powerful comment!

    • nebby profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      Congratulations on your purple star! Hope is a powerful 4 letter word & one we need to mention more often then we do.

    • dustytoes profile image


      7 years ago

      My hat is off to scientists and researchers who do their best to make this world a better place to live! I was sent here from Mandee's review.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 

      7 years ago from New Zealand

      Great job with a not that easy challenge. I found the chemistry of hope interesting and inspiring, but I did disagree with one point right at the beginning. I never thought of scientists as unemotional - but rather I find them to be very passionate about their ideas and their work.

    • ChemKnitsBlog2 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @kimmanleyort: You're welcome :)

    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 

      7 years ago

      Very wonderful lens. Very interesting and personal. I am sorry for your struggles, but I applaud your victories.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is my type of lens. I will be thinking of the chemistry of hope long after this moment. Your description of hope as a chemical solution was brilliant. Thanks for creating such an interesting lens.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What a delightful and inspiring article! The chemistry of hope...without hope we don't have much do we? Very nicely done!

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 

      7 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Great job - I love to read about hope!

    • purplelady profile image


      7 years ago

      This concept of the chemistry of hope is definitely a subject to ponder. Thanks for putting together this great lens and putting me in my Ponder That mode.

    • Missmerfaery444 profile image


      7 years ago

      Brilliant! Enjoyed reading this :)

    • ChemKnitsBlog2 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @anonymous: You're really sweet, H. Thanks for visiting!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I've enjoyed looking through your newest hobby, R. I hope you enjoy all of the comments you got :)

    • ChemKnitsBlog2 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @giacombs-ramirez: hahahahaha!

    • giacombs-ramirez profile image

      gia combs-ramirez 

      7 years ago from Montana

      On the 13th lens of jenga, chemknitsblog gave to me, a big dose of hope chemistryyyyyy

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      7 years ago from United States

      Wow! Magnificent! I love what you have written. I am surrounded by scientist, philosophers, psychiatrist and doctors and I doubt seriously either of them could have written a more eloquent presentation. Most Excellent!

    • ChemKnitsBlog2 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @mysticmama lm: You will find a lot of chemistry vs physics debates in my home :) Thanks for the blessing!

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 

      7 years ago

      Wonderful! ~ I've always equated hope and prayer more with the laws of physics than chemistry, but I can see the correlation you're presenting. My theories on hope & prayer are relative to energy & the act of hoping or praying creating a substansive re-action, thus if you look at the energy transmitted by hoping or praying, the more action taken projecting that energy, the more re-action or outcome happens in relation to the amount of action ~ This would explain why prayer chains work ~ I actually have a lens on the power of prayer that explains this in detail.

      ~ Blessed by a Squid Angel >*

    • Addy Bell profile image

      Addy Bell 

      7 years ago

      When I started reading, I was hoping for a formula ... you know, this much dopamine + this much serotonin = optimism. What you've written is much more important. Thanks.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Proud of you! Keep up the good work.

    • MagpieNest profile image


      7 years ago

      Excellent lens. I'd love to see more people talking about science in this way - there's so little understanding out there.

    • malloryjane profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow, what an amazing lens - a very unique topic, I'm so impressed at your interpretation & how quickly you put it together!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Good job!

    • GonnaFly profile image


      7 years ago from Australia

      What a great read! I had never stopped to think about how few drugs being researched actually make it into the market place.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      7 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Wonderful lens - very enjoyable and a great addition to the Jenga challenge tower!

    • DreamingBoomer profile image

      Karen Kay 

      7 years ago from Jackson, MS

      Love your story, and your talent, Chemknit! You are blessed in many ways! Thank you for sharing them with us!

    • BuckHawkcenter profile image


      7 years ago

      I am in awe! The hope of chemistry and the fight you have fought are both amazing. Our soon to be DOCTOR Chemknitblog is inspiring.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 

      7 years ago from Royalton

      Thank you for explaining the life and thoughts of a Chemist so well. As a teacher of young children I search for ways to explain various careers and had never had a grasp on the life of a research scientist before. From your explanation, I now feel that I could encourage someone to pursue a career in research science, a career that offers hope to the world. Thank you so much.

    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 

      7 years ago

      This is amazing!

    • javr profile image


      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I am awed by your story. This may bring hope to others similarly affected.

    • capriliz lm profile image

      capriliz lm 

      7 years ago

      You have shared an amazing story that is full of inspiration. This is a wonderful lens! Another jenga block.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What an incredible story... you are such an overcomer, and an inspiration to us all! Thanks so much for taking the Jenga challenge. You have done a beautiful job of sharing your story. Merry Christmas, Hopeful One! Connie

    • Not-Pop profile image


      7 years ago

      What a fabulous lens and a great explanation of what it takes to be a working scientist: hope and chemistry in equal-ish parts. Beautifully written!

    • luvmyludwig lm profile image

      luvmyludwig lm 

      7 years ago

      Great job on this one, I think you really nailed your lens assignment!

    • DecoratingEvents profile image


      7 years ago

      I agree - fantastic! What a wonderful lens and I so enjoyed your hope and triumph story!

    • juliannegentile profile image

      Julianne Gentile 

      7 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio, US



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