SciArt Magazine - All Issues - Page 16

among chemical equations and descriptions of lab experiments were fanciful watercolors of elf-like creatures. Some held dripping candles beneath bubbling beakers. Others peeked out from behind glass tubing, or struck a wry pose beneath descriptions of lab procedures. Parrish had even written up his experiment results in immaculate calligraphy. I knew then that I had to know more about this notebook. What drove Parrish to draw what he drew? What other illustrations did the notebook contain? Was Parrish part of a larger history of chemistry-based art, or art-infused chemistry? And most importantly, when could I see the notebook in person? I would have to wait ten years to answer my questions. Chemistry is not the first realm of science that one would expect to produce good art. When I think of SciArt, I think of disciplines like paleontology and ecology that feature charismatic animals or picturesque landscapes. My mind drifts to the bird paintings of John James Audubon, the lively dinosaur drawings of paleontologist Robert Bakker, or the clear diagrams in Gray’s Anatomy. And few science artifacts are as full of SciArt as field notebooks. In fact, Michael Canfield, of Harvard University, recently wrote a book on the subject. Field Notes on Science & Nature explores the significance of the field notebook in the history of science, showing how scientists in different fields used their notebooks to sketch, scribble, and record ideas. The lab notebooks in chemistry, though, aren’t in the same category. “Lab notebooks, at least as far as my general perception indicates, are much more stereotyped and fo