Fear and Loathing over Recruitment Weekend

February 28, 2011

As promised, here’s a cross post of the latest work over at Transition States:

Plain and simple: recruitment weekends are awesome, if not a little bit overwhelming. Generally, there’s 48 hours or less to figure out three important things:

  1. Is this the department for me?
  2. Which professors would I actually want to work for?
  3. How best can I take advantage of free drinks, while not getting too drunk?

It’s definitely taxing, especially when you start mixing 1 and 2 with 3. With my first weekend down, here are some extensive tips I’ve rapidly developed (prototyped?) to not just survive recruitment weekend, but to really ‘overclock’ your experience.

See all the tips at CENtral Science:

In an effort to not clog up your RSS feeds too bad, I’ll probably only cross post here for the next week or two. So if you’d like to keep up to date with all things Chiral Jones, add the new site to your RSS tracker. Deal? Deal!


Chiral Jones is dead. Long live Chiral Jones.

February 22, 2011

As aforementioned, I was expecting a move to CENtral Science. Finally: Transition States is go!

Blogging will slow down a bit here, but during the beginning, I’ll be sure to cross post (with plenty of links) so you can re-calibrate your RSS antennas. And I might drop the occasional ‘just-for-fun’ post here, too.

Thanks for reading this far, everyone. You’re all cordially invited to check out the new blog.

*If you’re well read in chemical blogging, you might recall the now dormant blog written by a fellow named Tynchtyk, A Chemist in a Transition State. We briefly debated using such a similar name, but after emailing Tynchtyk, and receiving a supportive response about using the name, we figured we had to. A shout out/kudos to you, Tynchtyk.



ACD Labs – Check yo’ internets!

February 3, 2011

Just a little something I noticed today while trying to look something up about ACD Labs. This is current as of maybe 20 minutes ago:

Sorry it’s a bit small, I suggest you view the full pic. Check out the first and last entries I’ve included from my screen-capture. Have a chuckle at it before ACD gets wise and fixes it.
Either someone at ACD labs has a weird sense of humor, is a dissenter, or there’s some skulduggery afoot from a third party.
Oh. Also:

Noun: Underhanded or unscrupulous behavior; trickery

Bigger News

January 30, 2011

I’m in! A little less than a week ago, I received the first acceptance email. After the suspense of a seemingly indefinite wait, and uncertain outcomes, it’s a good, relieving feeling to know I’ll be going somewhere next year. Now I just need to hear back from everywhere else so I can start planning the North American tour dates…

More importantly, this means I’ll have ample blog/’job’ security for a few more years…

Actually… speaking of the ‘tour dates,’ does flying business class on Southwest constitute a “reasonable travel expense?” Nothing says you’re a rockstar like preferred boarding, a free drink coupon, and double frequent flyer points.

Actually…speaking of free drink coupons, I spent the weekend celebrating grad school, the blog news, and for the sake of celebrating. Although it’s well into the evening, my head still feels weird. It’s as if the quiet, but constant rumble of the fume hood was encased in my brain… all. day. Considering the circumstances, I’m ok with it. And for next time, here’s some drinking guidelines set forth by the RSC. Really.

Big News

January 30, 2011

Chemjobber does it again! Really, he couldn’t be better at what he does – even if he’s not even specifically trying.

Way back when he cross posted info about my search for grad schools, I got much more than I bargained for.* An editor of C&EN came across my blog, enjoyed the ‘Chiral Jones Experience,’™ and contacted me with interest in picking me up over at CENtral Science. Of course, I played it coy and said “I like the idea very much,” instead of “no sh’t, I want to blog for C&EN!” I blurted out when I originally read her email. In retrospect, I think my original response would have been equally well received, but, you know… ‘Best foot forward” and all…

We’ve exchanged plenty of emails, discussed different aspects of the new blog, including the  possibility of a co-blogger, etc, etc. After confirmation from the C&EN High Council, the news is finally official enough to post here! So here are the deets:

Yes, I’ll be blogging for C&EN! The majority of my operations will take place over there, but I’ll cross post things back here from time to time, and maybe post some random things here if they don’t necessarily fit in with things over at C&EN. You know, quick posts like “Hey, I think this paper is cool, you should check it out” that aren’t necessarily a full “post,” more a glamorized tweet (tumbl, as I hear they’re called, but I neither tweet nor tumbl), and maybe incriminating happy hour pics. OK, especially incriminating happy hour pics.

Yes, I’ll be picking up a padawan-blogger! I’ll let him introduce himself at the new digs, but I’ll say that he’s a junior, and he’s generally pretty awesome. He’s doing more of a chemical biology thing, and wants to get a little more into synthesis. (lucky kid has never even had to run a column!) I’m glad to have him on-board, as our interests complement each other quite nicely. (Chemical biology looking to do a little more synthesis vs. Synthesis looking to do a little more chemical biology.)

We actually don’t have a name yet… but we’re working on that. Worst case scenario, we’re going to mash-up names of other successful blogs. Something like: The Totally Carbon-Based Pipeline Button. Which… actually isn’t as terrible as I had imagined. So that’s an option, too.

We start as soon as we get the paperwork, and the name thing sorted out. Guesstimation: about a week.

Full details forthcoming!

*Actually, I didn’t bargain at all, so I suppose receiving anything is more than I bargained for…

Home, and out of my mind, for the holidays

December 31, 2010

Happy holidays, and a happy New Years (Eve, depending on your timezone) to everybody. As you might expect, I’m in the thick of the holiday slow-down. Granted, many of you will probably be back at the grind some time after the first, but I won’t even be back at school, nor spending any time at “the altar,”* until the 13th. I mean, I don’t mind extended time off, and I certainly enjoy catching up with friends I haven’t seen in six months,  but the last intermediates I was working with are just… sitting there. SITTING THERE!

Considering I’m at the point where I’ve definitely had my fill of family time, I’m conducting some “interdisciplinary” holiday research, just to keep busy. Current projects include “late night leftover feeding habits of the North American undergraduate,” and “New Years Eve: A case study.” Feeding habit data suggests an average of two investigatory trips to the fridge per feeding cycle, followed by an additional trip to the fridge, and consumption of the least unappealing leftovers. These cycles continue until hunger is satisfied, although depending upon metabolic rates, wait time between each step, and “appealing-ness” of leftovers, the process can extend well into after-hours.

Data on the New Years project is forthcoming. Currently, I’m seeking to quantify work published by B.E. Peas, et al., indicating why, and to what degree tonight will be a good night. Meta-analysis of 3 previous New Years Eve data sets will be included.

Anyway, I’ll be finishing grad school applications, bothering my PI to finish his rec’s (on time!), and polishing up a bunch of drafts for the next salvo of posts here. Oh, and enjoying time with friends. I suggest you do the same(the friends part), and I’ll see you in 2011.

*no, not my altar, just a particularly clean lookin’ one.

Arse, ‘innit?

December 8, 2010

Big claims require big proof, especially if they’re contrary to all scientific reasoning thus far. If I were to say, “The moon orbits the earth,” that’s pretty well known at this point, and doesn’t require much to back it up. If I were to say, in all seriousness, “The moon is made of cheese,” then that would require some serious proof, excavated bits of moon-cheese goodness for analytical testing, and of course the subsequent publication of moon-cheese to variety of wine optimization.

So, as a scientist, here’s my obligatory post regarding the whole “Arsenic Replacing Phosphorus in DNA Backbone” thing. I’ll keep it brief, and for scientists and non-scientists alike. Longest of long stories short: Researchers think they’ve found a species of cell that can incorporate arsenic (usually quite toxic) into the backbone of their DNA in place of phosphorus – a big deal, indeed, considering A) usual toxicity of arsenic, and B) any swap of this kind has never before been documented.

Whether or not it’s true, it really seems as though Wolfe-Simon et al. haven’t fully supported their case, and that’s a problem. (If you want a full breakdown of why the paper is kind of flawed, check out commentaries by Derek Lowe, and Rosie Redfield. They offer a far more detailed look than I can offer.) Again, long story short, it’s cool that the bacteria can tolerate the arsenic, and it’s definitely hiding around the cell somewhere, but there’s far from definitive evidence that it’s actually incorporated in the DNA.

In response to criticisms, via Nature News: “We are not going to engage in this sort of discussion,” she wrote in an e-mail to Nature. “Any discourse will have to be peer-reviewed in the same manner as our paper was, and go through a vetting process so that all discussion is properly moderated.”

Wh-what!? Now, it’s very possible that bits of the email have been taken out of context, but if not, seriously? Personally, I think this is the biggest problem regarding the whole situation. If you publish a potentially groundbreaking article, in a journal like Science, I don’t think you’re allowed a “Haters Gonna Hate” attitude towards public criticism, especially if such criticism has generally been logical, and scientifically well reasoned. Eventually, the foremost criticisms just might get peer reviewed, at which point, then what will you do? Diplomatically, it might make a little sense to address these criticisms now, rather than copping out in such epic fashion. So, most diplomatically, I’d suggest that the authors nut up, answer some questions, and maybe admit they didn’t do everything within their means to everything to fully support their claim. (Yes, it’s a diplomatic expression. Kennedy totally used it in the “We Choose to go to the Moon” speech.*)

*So maybe I paraphrased just a little bit.