Born to Pun

January 31, 2010

Opinions vary, but I really enjoy the wordplay from ACIE. Regardless of how lame the puns are, they’re at least trying, occasionally they make me smile a bit, and truth be told, I’ve checked out a papers before based solely on the quality and cleverness of the pun.

But then this popped up in my RSS reader… for shame. And right on the heels of the some of their best work, too…


Don’t Look Directly At It

January 26, 2010

Yesterday was round one of P-Chem lab. I have nothing to report other than pictures of glowing green amazingness. If you’re curious, these are from Raman spectroscopy of liquids.

Here’s our old-school Raman spectrometer. What it lacks in brute force and technological advancement, it makes up for in charm and sheer awesomeness: particularly, the key operated master laser switch. I was hoping that a large red button with flip cover would appear after the key was turned, but that’s only a feature on newer models…

And here’s the other end of the thing.

A normal liquid sample. This one is carbon tetrachloride, I believe.

More impressively, this was spectra collection of liquid nitrogen.


Even closer, with the lights off.

In conclusion, lasers are cool, as is liquid nitrogen.

Extraordinary Measures

January 25, 2010

The ladyfriend and I went to go see the movie Extraordinary Measures this weekend. Considering she’s a film major, and chemistry’s my bag, it was an obvious match up on our to-do lists, and allowed us both to thoroughly geek out over the finer details regarding our craft. Furthermore, considering many of the reviews I’ve seen of the movie ragged on it for being too technical, I’d like to take the time to review the movie as a scientist, for other scientists.

To get everyone up to speed, and without ruining anything, the (based on a true story) movie focuses on John and Aileen Crowley’s (Brendan Frasier and Keri Russel) search for a cure for Pompe Disease, which afflicts two of their young children. They team up with researcher John Stonehill (Harrison Ford), start a biotech company, and against all odds, hop on the fast-track to saving some little kids. Considering the movie is based on a true story, I wouldn’t say the plot is a big secret or anything. However, if you’re going to be all scientific about it and see it without preconceived notions, then you might want to stop here. If you’re curious and don’t mind a few minor factual spoilers, read on! Read the rest of this entry »

Hot Sweet Isoquinolinones!

January 21, 2010

I’m shifting gears this semester, and now it looks like I’ll be cooking up a library of isoquinolinones. Something along the lines of these bad-lads: 

Not exactly the kind of hardcore total synthesis I was looking for, but the steps for this are looking a little more appetizing. Purification is looking stupid-easy, and it’s projected that the only columns that will be necessary will be for the purification of final product. (On the bright side, I’m sure most total synthesis projects around here would be column heavy and rather draining) And if that doesn’t make you giddy with excitement (or at least jealous), then maybe this will: considering I’m just cooking up a library of these things, I’ll most likely get to use an automated prep-HPLC system to take care of the dirty work!

I’m overjoyed.

Welcome to the Future!

January 14, 2010

Happy 2010, everybody! Everything’s new and exciting and, well, ok: pretty much same. But it’s nice to try to think of it like it’s new and shiny!

Anyway, finally – back at school where I belong! Being home for a month was… odd. On the one hand, the break from science was extremely necessary, however the whole month was a little overkill; toward the end I was getting a little antsy to get back to a lab. Furthermore, the southside/suburbs of Chicago are, in my opinion, an pit of intellectual despair*. So being anywhere where I can thoroughly geek out over stuff is incredibly comforting. And finally, the Midwest just doesn’t understand tasty beer.

So, now that it’s 2010, maybe some chemistry related resolutions are in order:

  • learn more about cross-coupling reactions: despite the enthralling synthesis class last semester, we didn’t even scratch the surface of cross-coupling reactions. And when it comes to making stuff, I’ve heard they’re kinda important…
  • get into some serious synthesis: I mentioned before that the library synthesis wasn’t exactly doing it for me, but was starting to grow on me. Well, if I’m lucky I may get to have the best of both worlds: continuing work on the library project, and maybe picking up a more complex molecule synthesis or fragment of a total synthesis! Depending on an upcoming meeting/discussion with my adviser, this might be possible. So I’ve got my fingers crossed.
  • learn to cook: I know, I can “do chemistry”, but I can’t cook? What kind of chemist does that make me? Well, I’ll tell ya, the phrase “medium-high heat”: totally not quantitative. Certainly not journal-worthy¹. But truth be told, I could stand to learn a bit more about cooking. And considering how much I love food, particularly the delicious and gourmet, it’d be a worthwhile investment. Now, time to get some proper gear to outfit my otherwise spartan kitchen… and one of those wall-knife-magnet things. They’re so cool.

    and finally

  • post more! yeah yeah, typical blog resolution. But, I will not rest until I’m posting with the diligence and impact of Derek Lowe. Or, until they develop a blogging platform that will transcribe my ongoing chemical-based stream of consciousness. Both would be acceptably awesome.

To a happy, healthy, and productive 2010.

*A bit harsh, I know, but that’s just my opinion. Although I’m not stoked about the southside, I fell in love with the city as a whole again while being home. If you’re from the Chicago area and want to wax poetic about neighborhoods of the city, discuss real deep dish pizza, or argue about Sox vs. Cubs, let me know.

[1] Ok, maybe Tet. Lett…²

[2] I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your waitresses.