Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Elena Ceauşescu

A few years ago, before I got into industry, I was relaxing in the university library. Tired of defending my glassware and fighting over the last 100 ml of dichloromethane I usually went there to read Chemische Berichte of 1897 or the first issue of Nature. This time I found a book called: ‘Stereospecific Polymerization of Isoprene’ (1982). It caught my attention because of the name of the writer; Elena Ceauşescu.

I didn’t read the book (polymer chemistry is no expertise of mine), but I saw the book came from Romania, and was indeed a book by THE Elena Ceauşescu. I rembered seeing her execution on TV a few years before. Inside the books of the library were lists of all people who borrowed it. This list was empty.

Fascinated by this historic document I searched the catalog and found out that almost all European university libraries had a copy of the book. It turned out that Ceauşescu had sent the book herself to the libraries.

Elena Ceauşescu was seeking for status, and with her husband’s influence she was able to obtain it. Her PhD in chemistry is probably false. It is disputed that she wrote the book herself, and it is said that she didn’t have the intellectual capabilities to obtain a PhD.

Scifinder gives 90 hits on her name. Starting with a patent, filed in 1964 with her name on the second place.

In 1965 the Romanian communist leader Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej died, and Nicolae Ceauşescu came to power. After that point, all other 89 patents and publications (Materiale Plastice/Revue Roumaine de Chimie) name Elena as the first author. Finally she had obtained a status as a scientist, and a status as the most hated person in Romania as well.

The last book she published (Dostizheniia v khimii i tekhnologii polimerov) appeared in 1988. A year later she probably sang : "Last Christmas".

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