Oxygen--the 'science-in-fiction' play written by chemists Carl Djerassi and Roald Hoffmann--will permeate the Royal Institution as it debuts in London Oct. 27. With the premiere at the San Diego Repertory Theater in California and publication of the play (Wiley-VCH) last Spring, Djerassi, also known as 'Father of The Pill,' and Nobel laureate Hoffmann garnered kudos from an A-list of science 'critics' and respectable notice in theater circles. From Nobel laureates Harold Varmus and Murray Gell-Mann to best-selling authors Oliver Sacks and Stephen Jay Gould, Oxygen has been heralded as "probing," "thought-provoking," "witty," "an extraordinary tour-de-force."

The two-act drama is based on the premise that the Nobel Committee has decided in this, its centenary year to give the first "retro-Nobel" to the discoverer of oxygen. Three chemists, the committee quickly determines, lay a claim to that discovery:

  • Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, father of the chemical revolution;
  • Reverend Joseph Priestley,...

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