THE WANDERING PROFESSOR WHO
CARRIES A LAB IN HER SUITCASE
A Strange Science Exclusive!
From Strange Science Monthly, April 1938
The ever-changing science of chemistry has mystified man since he first discovered fire. Like the five vowels that are the basis of our language, the ancient Hindoos and Greeks saw the universe as being made up of just five elements: earth, water, air, fire, and sometimes "ether", that unknown space between everything else. By the Middle Ages, alchemists had isolated 13 mineral elements and tried in vain to transmute one into another well before the Renaissance brought us the knowledge of our air being a mixture of elemental gases. In 1869 the Russian D. I. Mendeleev gave us the first modern Periodic Table listing 63 chemical elements, and just last year the Italians Perier and Segrè raised that number to 89 with their synthesis of technetium. Indeed, something akin to alchemy is alive and well, even in our modern 20th century. But dabble in alchemy—or anything other than “established” science—and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a job.
That’s been the challenge for “wandering professor” Sonia Doré. “There are other approaches to understanding these universal building blocks,” says this woman who holds a PhD in chemistry from New York University. “We look at the periodic table with all of its colored squares as a way of grasping how the smallest of particles relate to each other. It’s a useful tool, but only one of many for unlocking the secrets of the world.”
Doré’s lab work began in the southern college circuit, but that was only part of her training. As a chemist by day, Doré spent her nights with doing field work professed healers—jujus and hoodoos, modern-day alchemists working in Harlem and New Orleans, Cuba and Haiti. Combining her academic acredidation with these other understandings of chemistry—many as ancient as the Greek lore handed down to western men— Professor Doré is taking science to where few men (or women) have taken it before—in more ways than on. Traveling by train with a portable laboratory, small enough to fit into a suitcase, she collects her atomic wherever she can find them: sticks of chalk, roots rich in mineral content, and ordinary sand are some favorite staples that she uses for experiments, as well as reading dreams, healing psyches, and chasing out evil spirits.
With her presentation that’s part lecture, part séance, Professor Doré never turns down an invitation to speak. Roaming from town to town, she’s visited veteran’s hospitals, sanitariums, horse doctors, events hosted by the Rotary Club and the American Theosophical Society, and even some churches.
“The university will teach you so much,” says Professor Doré, “but only so much. And they aren’t yet ready for a woman like me to literally come and stir things up.”
Professor Doré’s Traveling Lecture and Séance will be passing though the Midwest this spring, then over to California for the Summer before making its way back east this fall. For an updated itinerary of Professor Doré’s engagements, please send a self-addressed envelope to the address given at the front of this magazine.