1000xChemistry – Creative Storytelling in 1000 Words

1000xChemistry – Creative Storytelling in 1000 Words

Author: Ottavia BettucciORCID iD

After a few years of absence, the 1000xChemistry contest returns. It is the first writing contest exclusively dedicated to chemistry, organized by the interdisciplinary group “Diffusione della cultura chimica” of the Società Chimica Italiana (SCI, Italian Chemical Society). 1000xchemistry invites chemists to explore the fascinating world of chemistry through creative storytelling by using only 1000 words. Whether participants are inspired by the elegance of chemical equations or the mysteries of the periodic table, this contest offers them a platform to showcase their literary talents while celebrating the wonders of chemistry.

From captivating narratives of scientific discovery to imaginative tales set in the laboratory, participants are encouraged to craft original works that illuminate the beauty and significance of chemistry in our lives.
The jury, composed of Sara Tortorella, a chemist with a Ph.D. in chemometrics and molecular modeling, engaged in the dissemination and spread of scientific culture; Vincenzo Guarnieri, a chemist with a Ph.D. in biochemistry and cellular biotechnologies, who deals with science communication through an interdisciplinary approach; and Ottavia Bettucci, a chemist with a Ph.D. in organic synthesis, a researcher, and a scientific communicator who is a member of the board of “Diffusione della cultura chimica” evaluated numerous contributions and ultimately selected two as winners of the contest!


Winners of the Essay Competition

The First Prize

The first prize was awarded to Giovanni Merola and Francesca Camilla Petrocelli for their contribution named “An Electron in the Mirror”. The story explores the existential journey of an electron awakening to questions of identity and purpose in the subatomic realm. Through an encounter with a photon, it discovers its inherent duality as both wave-like and particle-like, embracing its uniqueness and interconnectedness within the quantum world. This realization adds depth to its existence, allowing it to dance gracefully between its two natures and become a harmonious expression of the underlying complexity of the subatomic universe.

Giovanni told ChemistryViews, “For me, writing a chemistry story was a very stimulating novelty. I hope to have more opportunities and inspiration to write beautiful stories about chemistry and not only”. He goes on to say that to make the essay interesting for a wider audience, he got help from a colleague, an Italian teacher, who co-authored the story. “She has experience with both children and teenagers of school age, and she advised me and corrected some parts, also giving me hints about the style.”


The Second Prize

The second prize was awarded to Nicola Cavallini for his contribution named “Buttons”. This story describes a surreal experience in which the protagonist, drawn to a red button labeled “+CH3”, unwittingly transforms into a fat version of himself. This transformation triggers a bizarre encounter with a figure claiming to be the “Boss of the Universe”. Through humorous dialogue, it is revealed that the button press has unintended consequences, causing chaos and personal reflection on the protagonist’s academic and life choices. Ultimately, the experience is revealed to be a dream, leaving the protagonist to ponder its meaning.

Nicola told ChemistryViews, “The inspiration came from a simple idea: what would happen if you made a small change like adding a -CH3 to fats and triglycerides? It was interesting to think about it from a scientific point of view, and the chance to write it into a story made it even more enjoyable.” To make the piece appealing to a broader audience, he also sought feedback. “On the engagement side, I asked some close friends and family members to be beta testers for the story. They gave me nice feedback on many aspects, almost without any specific indication from me as to what I wanted to be evaluated. Thank you, beta testers!”

When asked about his advice for communicating chemistry, he said to be aware that we are humans communicating to humans: “Science cannot do without art, so facts and rigor are not enough. And always a good advice: “… it was so much fun to participate…”


These two chemistry stories were evaluated as the best contributions, but the jury considered all the other contents to be of the highest level in terms of originality and scientific relevance.


Get Involved: Enter the Next Essay Competition

The call is always open so, don’t miss the opportunity to share your inspiration, wait for the next 100xchemistry call, join us in this groundbreaking contest, and let your words ignite the imagination and inspire a deeper appreciation for the chemical world.



Ottavia Bettucci
Gruppo Interdivisonale Diffusione della Cultura Chimica, Società Chimica Italiana
Università degli Studi di Milano Bicocca, Italia

Also of Interest

Links to Winning Essays



Commentary: Buttons

The essay that won 2nd place in the SCI’s 1000xChemistry essay competition, tells the story of a mysterious button that triggers chaos, causing the protagonist to reflect on his academic and life choices



An Electron in the Mirror

Commentary: An Electron in the Mirror

It was a morning in the microcosm of subatomic particles … The essay that wom 1st place in the SCI’s 1000xChemistry essay competition



Previous Essay Contests and Winners’ Texts


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