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New Michael’s Reactions series

Chemistry can be either friend or foe. Sometimes it causes unexpected problems. At the same time, however, it can help resolve many difficult situations. Would you put your life into its hands? Dr. Michael Londesborough has no problem with it. His new series, Michael’s Reactions will show us why he has absolute faith in chemistry’s strength. It will also reveal all of the places chemistry plays an important role and facilitates extraordinary experiences for us.

Chemistry can be either friend or foe. Sometimes it causes unexpected problems. At the same time, however, it can help resolve many difficult situations. Would you put your life into its hands? Dr. Michael Londesborough has no problem with it. His new series, Michael’s Reactions will show us why he has absolute faith in chemistry’s strength. It will also reveal all of the places chemistry plays an important role and facilitates extraordinary experiences for us.

Michael's Reactions

In order to get more details about his new project, I invited Michael to join me for a coffee and found out what we can look forward to.

How did this project begin?

It all began when I was invited to participate in and present at Reactions Conference 2017. Various people there discuss the future direction of technologies in areas of polymer utilization, energy, mobility, etc. Shortly after the conference, employees from Unipetrol’s marketing department approached me with the idea of creating a series of short films, about different kinds of polymers and the products made from them. Michael’s Reactions was born out of that idea.

Why did you join in on the project? What is the significance for you?

We live in a time of rapid rise of a large amount of technological discoveries. Our whole world is changing at a rapid pace. I suspect that a lot of us feel it is changing quicker than we are able to understand it. One example is the usage of new materials. There are many instances in which we can substitute traditional materials, such as steel or wood, with polymer materials. Human kind has been working with traditional materials for thousands of years and knows them very well. Polymers are fairly new, so our experience with them is meager. I saw an opportunity here, to familiarize people with these materials and provide them with information about their diversity and the options they offer. Mainly I hope that thanks to this series, people will understand polymers better and get acquainted with products that are made from them. Because when people understand something, they realize there is nothing to fear.

During filming, you are often doing activities that are not typical in your everyday life. For example, you climb mountains, ride a kayak or drive a tractor. What has been the most interesting experience so far?

It’s hard to pick just one. I am trying a lot of things for the first time and don’t know yet what the best is. For example, I rode a tractor for the first time and it was wonderful. I was riding on an open field, full of mounds I would have no chance of driving through with a regular car. In the tractor, it was easy and smooth. That was really a great experience.

I also really enjoyed mountain climbing in Český Ráj. It was my first time climbing and it gave me a big dose of adrenaline. It was the perfect opportunity to show my faith in the strength of chemistry. To show that the rope, made from polymers, would really hold me and prevent me from falling. It’s really an unforgettable experience.

Were you ever worried or scared while filming?

I am worried before every filming session about how everything will turn out. The fear shows up primarily on the way to the filming location. In my head I tell myself, “You’ve never done this before, how will it go?” But the fear mainly comes from worries about messing something up. When we were filming on the kayak, I was surprised at how hard it was to keep it straight. I wasn’t scared for my life, but rather worried about us getting the right takes.

Which episode is your favorite?

I was thinking about it too. It may sound cliché, but I really don’t have a favorite. The films are really quite distinctive. Each one is about a different product, talks about a different material and I do various activities in them. I would also like to say, that the people on the film crew are very pleasant. The whole creative process, with everyone involved, is wonderful, so it is really a pleasure to shoot. I wouldn’t want to pick just one episode, because I think they all have something to offer.

If audiences were able to watch just one episode, which one should they definitely not miss?

I think that depends on their profession or hobbies. For example, someone interested in agriculture should definitely see the episode in which I act as a farmer. Someone that’s into sports will surely be surprised by the beautiful chemistry I talk about in either the mountain climbing or the football episode. If someone is interested in materials used to make other products, I would recommend the kayak episode, in which I discuss Liten- a product made from high density polyethylene. In short, I think there is something for everyone.

Why should audiences watch the series?

They should watch to get a better idea about all of the places where polymers play a role in our everyday lives. To expand their knowledge about how technological progress really brings us new possibilities. Furthermore, I hope that it will be an inspiration to people who want to invent something interesting in the scientific or technological sphere. That it will help them get to know new materials and work as a catalyst for their own creations. I also think, that even though many people in the Czech Republic have heard of Unipetrol, they may have no idea what is actually made there. I hope that this program will enrich people’s knowledge and show them the role that Unipetrol really plays in their lives.

What’s being planned for the future? Which topics would you like to focus on?

This year, we would still like to film a video about hydrogen. Hydrogen is the smallest and most abundant molecule in the universe. It also provides an excellent means of storing energy. Hydrogen likes to react with oxygen, which is how it makes water and releases energy from within. It works as a sort of energetic battery. Thanks to this, as we heard at the last Reactions Conference, there is great expectation that we are moving toward a hydrogen society in place of the hydrocarbon one we have now. I think that this would be a great step forward for our society. We would be able to utilize hydrocarbons for purposes other than just burning them. Hydrocarbons have a great amount of potential, partially still undiscovered, and it’s solely up to us, how we’re going to use it. I personally am very curious and excited to see what all these priceless molecules will enable us to do in the future.

Even in the short time that I spent with Michael during the interview, he convinced me of his passion for chemistry. If even half of his enthusiasm translates into the Michael’s Reactions series, we are really in for a treat. When I left Michael, he asked me to send him my impressions of Michael’s Reactions. Even now, I am already looking forward to when I start finding out where all in my life polyethylene, polypropylene, polyamine and  any other poly-something play a significant role. 

Josefína Chalupová | Unipetrol