I was distressed by William Booth's article "Beauty and the Buckyball" {Dec. 3} about the meeting of the Materials Research Society.

I am a chemist who sports neither a "cheap" suit nor a "beeping" watch. I am also a woman, as are many chemists, while Booth seemed to imply that scientists are primarily "guys." Booth's article perpetuated the stereotype of scientists as nerdy, out-of-touch individuals, which can lead to a distrust of scientists and may discourage young people -- particularly women -- from pursuing an interest in the sciences.

Booth's discussion of the buckyball's beauty also was disappointing. The world of science has much beauty. When James Watson and Francis Crick first proposed the double-helix model for DNA, the beauty of the structure helped convince them their theories were right. I am sure Robert Whetten does not think the buckyball is beautiful simply because it "represent(s) the highest possible symmetry allowed in Euclidean geometry." Beauty in science, like beauty in any other part of human experience, may be found in simplicity, in complexity, in color or in form and is in the eye of the beholder.

Science is not an ivory tower, and scientists are not social outcasts. Perpetuation of these stereotypes is helpful to no one. -- Julie B. Kempton