CHEMisperceptions: Day 4


Leigh is in good form today for day 4. Her rant on the word “organic” is a really fun read with some history that I didn’t really know about splashed in! Good stuff. We’re back here tomorrow for a brief roundup and the release of our “quiz” results!

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CHEMisperceptions: Day 3


Paul has day three up and running over at ChemBark where he’s talking about energy policy stuff. Go check it out!

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CHEMisperceptions: Day 2


CJ’s got day 2 of CHEMisperceptions over on his site and is talking about the “how” “what” and “why” of chemistry. Go. Comment. Enjoy!

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CHEMisperceptions. Day 1


Would you rather? … a different way to look at chemical safety July 18th, 2011 Note: Today is the first day of our (CJ, Leigh, Paul and me) most recent blogging roundtable. We all got started down this road when Paul said (over email), “Hey, I wanna talk about what people are getting wrong in their energy science arguments. I had tons of fun doing our last roundtable. Lets do another one!” We quickly decided that Paul was right (isn’t he always right??), and that we all were excited to do another round table. A common theme of “what people think about chemists/chemicals/chemical industry and why these opinions grate on us as chemists” instantly propped up. But, we couldn’t just call our roundtable “Hey, You’re WRONG.” So, again, Paul saved us by coming up with the very punny CHEMisperceptions. And, with the whole

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Roundtable, Part Deux


Because people have been banging down our doors asking for another one July 14, 2011 In our first roundtable on the state of chemistry jobs, you laughed, you cried (certainly you cried if you’re an unemployed chemist or currently in your PhD or postdoc), you commiserated. And, it was such a success, that we’ve decided to do another roundtable next week. Actually, the four of us had such a great time doing it that we wanted to do another one. And since Leigh has turned in her thesis (it IS in, isn’t it Leigh?), we’re ready to go. “There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to create a successful sequel. Number one: the body count is always bigger. Number two: the death scenes are always much more elaborate – more blood, more gore – *carnage candy*. And number three: never, ever, under any circumstances, assume the … Continue reading

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Welcome SciAm Blogs


From the chemistry community. “Who’s that,” you say. *C H E M I S T R Y July 07, 2011 Scientific American has announced the make-up of their new blogging network. Their announcement set off waves of congratulations through the blogosphere yesterday. This collection of wonderful writers, put together by Bora Zivkovic will certainly rival some of the other, major, broadly-focused blogging networks (Wired Science, Discover Blogs, Scientopia, Guardian Science Blogs, PLoS Blogs, ScienceBlogs, and others). While the excitement over this new network is justified (I already read many of the contributors blogs), I must say that I am disappointed at the very minimal number of chemists contributing to the site. Of the 35 independent contributors, only 3 have any ties to the world of chemistry. And, it is safe to say that chemistry certainly won’t be a primary focus of any of these three sites. Cassie Rodenberg, a former … Continue reading

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My Chemically Fueled Life


Rebranding “Chemical-Free” The title of this post is potentially dangerous. If I were to see “My Chemical Fueled Life” on a shelf in a bookstore, I would immediately assume that the book was an autobiography of someone like Timothy Leary or Jerry Garcia. This could, certainly, be a book about the role ATP and mitochondria play in our existence. It could be a reasonable subtitle for Peter Atkins’ wonderful book, Atkins’ Molecules (side note – I love how Atkins stakes ownership of the molecules in his book). But given the context of seeing this title in a general bookstore, I would immediately presume that it is about drugs or toxins or industrial additives. I think this even though I am a scientist. I think this even though I’m a chemist, for-crying-out-loud! This is my confession for the day. I am a product of my environment. I am affected (to a … Continue reading

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In defense of arsenic


All things in moderation June 1, 2011 Today, for personal motivations, I am going to list all of the wonderful things that arsenic is responsible for. Please feel free to add to this list in the comments section as you see fit. Green Apples by Paul Cezanne made w Paris Green Cu(C2H3O2)2·3Cu(AsO2)2 GaAs solar panels Arsenic-loving-author Deborah Blum and her wonderful book – The Poisoner’s Handbook Author Alan Bradley and his arsenic-loving-heroine Flavia de Luce Not only can arsenic cause you to die, but it can almost kill the interwebz too #arseniclife Where would you be without your arsole Arsenic-based sea monkeys from ThinkGeek From @Rachel (see comments) Arsenic trioxide used to treat leukemia

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The Shape of Things


Making blocks with atoms is more difficult than you may think May 20, 2011 My oldest, who just turned four, has been “practicing” her letters lately. Of the many things that come easily to her – her early ability to speak and enunciate has always amazed me – writing letters is just not one of those things. (Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not concerned about her “advancement” in this area. Because there are so many things that she just does so well naturally, I’m just caught off guard at the things that don’t come easily to her.) But, being able to watch her develop is fascinating and one of the great joys of parenthood. Back to her letters … My daughter has always loved to draw and color. But her transition from hesitantly-drawn, squiggly lines to lines drawn in confidence is unmistakable (as the pictures on our home refrigerator … Continue reading

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A Career in Colors


The portrait drawn in over 50 years of studying the colors of chemicals April 05, 2011 1Publications of Harry B. Gray by color. Harry Gray (who was my postdoctoral advisor and is Gretchen’s doctoral advisor) recently celebrated his 75th birthday. A couple of weeks ago the group threw him a big bash at Caltech’s faculty club. Much of the organization was arranged by Gretchen with some help from our good friend, Paul. From all that I have heard, the evening was an absolute success. Group alumni from all over the world came out for the party. I was disappointed not to be able to make the trip back to Pasadena. But, I was fortunate enough to be able to work on a little gift for Harry. Before I say any more about this gift, I wanted to write a little bit about Harry and try (really all I can hope … Continue reading

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