She's a Scientist: Rebecca Lai
Chemistry Professor Rebecca Lai explores the science inside the Harry Potter books.
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- [00:00:00.749](Magical music playing)
- [00:00:03.580]My sorting hat so I could wear it, maybe.
- [00:00:07.380]University of Nebraska-Lincoln
- [00:00:09.160]Chemistry Professor, Rebecca Lai,
- [00:00:11.450]creates magic in the classroom
- [00:00:13.520]with her Harry Potter themed courses.
- [00:00:16.090]Basically I decoded the ingredients
- [00:00:18.150]in the potions mentioned in the books
- [00:00:20.709]and the chemistry behind those ingredients.
- [00:00:23.300]And the students were sorted into four houses
- [00:00:26.470]and throughout the whole semester
- [00:00:28.230]they had to answer questions to gain house point,
- [00:00:31.270]so as to eventually win the house cup.
- [00:00:34.290]So the first time I taught it Hufflepuff actually won.
- [00:00:38.161]When she isn't creating magic in the classroom,
- [00:00:40.260]Professor Lai is in the lab creating paper biosensors
- [00:00:44.440]that could be used to diagnose disease
- [00:00:47.040]or detect contaminants in drinking water.
- [00:00:49.320]We could sense lead, cadmium and uranium at the same time
- [00:00:53.760]by using these paper-based disposable electro strips.
- [00:00:57.747]Basically we would like to know, well,
- [00:01:00.090]whether there's lead or cadmium
- [00:01:01.530]in this, you know, drinking water.
- [00:01:03.560]And we would like to know, you know
- [00:01:05.420]whether there are certain, you know
- [00:01:06.877]biomarkers that are in one spot.
- [00:01:09.570]Lai grew up in Hong Kong
- [00:01:11.130]and went to high school in California.
- [00:01:13.470]So what about these three?
- [00:01:15.330]She was always curious
- [00:01:16.690]and loved learning new things.
- [00:01:18.700]I remember, I used to go to the library when I was young.
- [00:01:21.550]I would just pick up an encyclopedia
- [00:01:23.820]and I would just read from A to Z.
- [00:01:25.750]I have always liked arts when I was younger.
- [00:01:28.540]I only started to like science a bit more during high school
- [00:01:31.530]but then I, you know, took general chemistry,
- [00:01:33.920]realizing that I liked chemistry
- [00:01:35.990]and I was reasonably good at it.
- [00:01:37.820]Prior to that, I was planning to go into fashion design.
- [00:01:40.860]Mixing chemistry with Harry Potter
- [00:01:43.410]makes Lai's classes spellbinding.
- [00:01:46.160]Good scientists are creative.
- [00:01:48.210]Good artists are also creative
- [00:01:50.070]and JK Rowling's a pretty good scientist, actually.
- [00:01:53.090]I'm very impressed by her
- [00:01:54.540]and I think she would make a wonderful chemist.
- [00:01:58.220]I should ask her that if I get a chance to meet her, so.
- [00:02:03.248](Magical music playing)
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