Ever wonder how fast people get drunk and why the answer differs from person to person?

Or do you ponder why movie super spy James Bond is so picky with his martini “shaken not stirred” drink request?

An upcoming public lecture by Richard “Dick” Zare of Stanford University, sponsored by the Virginia Tech Department of Chemistry and the College of Science, will answer those questions and more. The lecture — free and open to the public — will take place at 7 p.m. Oct. 5 at The Lyric Theatre in Downtown Blacksburg.

In “Human Alcoholysis: How Fast do People Get Drunk?” Zare will examine the chemistry of drinking to excess and attempt to answer how fast and for how long the consumption of alcohol affects human activity. “It’s all a matter of chemical kinetics,” he said.

Know a good beer or wine, but not familiar with kinetics? No worries. Zare will cover everything needed to answer the question. (If you’re wondering, no alcohol will be served at the lecture. Sorry.)

Zare also will examine a question that has puzzled many fans of James Bond, the fictitious 007 agent created by Ian Fleming. For more than 50 years — through 14 novels and 26 films and varying accents — Bond has expressed a strong preference to have his martini “shaken, not stirred.” What difference does this make? Zare has the answer.

The public talk will be Zare’s second of the day for a Virginia Tech audience, following the Department of Chemistry-sponsored Highlands in Chemistry seminar. For that gathering, he will present the talk, “Adventures in Microdroplet Chemistry.” Taking place at 2:30 p.m. at 140 Hahn Hall North, the talk will focus on chemical reactions in microdroplets and comparing the findings with the behavior of the same reaction in bulk solutions.

Zare is the Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professor in Natural Science at Stanford University and is well-known for his research in the area of laser chemistry. According to Zare’s website, his work has resulted in a greater understanding of chemical reactions at the molecular level. His method of laser-induced fluorescence as a method for studying reaction dynamics has been widely adopted and has had a significant impact in the field.

Co-written by Corrin Lundquist, public relations specialist and assistant to the chair in the Department of Chemistry.

Share this story