July 04, 2014

4:34 PM | Happy Independence Day!
More blogging later this weekend, but for now, my favorite John Adams quote:I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. Sounds good […]
11:44 AM | A new climate for farming
In a new web special A New Climate For Farming Nature Climate Change presents a collection of articles and opinion pieces that deal with the various aspects of agriculture and climate change: Climate change fundamentally alters the way that farmers need to plan and manage their operations. This is necessary to avoid the worst impacts […]

July 03, 2014

3:18 PM | The official ACS policy on element mugs
Thanks to a discussion on Twitter on the ACS's super-fun element mugs (and how I've never received one, among other things), I received a helpful e-mail from ACS's Chris McCarthy, who contacted their membership marketing team:ACS currently provides members with element anniversary mugs for years 1 to 6.  Any member who is current on dues is eligible to receive one for their appropriate years of membership approximately four months prior to their annual anniversary date of joining ACS. ACS […]

July 02, 2014

3:15 PM | Process Wednesday: This stinks! (until it doesn't)
A new Organic Process Research and Development paper by Reeves et al. [1] talks about a route to a sulfone... and then another route to the sulfone for a very interesting reason: While this route effectively provided initial quantities of 3, the use of NaSMe, even as the more convenient aqueous solution, was not desirable due to its potent stench, which proved difficult to eliminate even with the most rigorous containment procedures.  A “stench-free” protocol was […]

July 01, 2014

3:26 PM | How are other institutions reacting to the Harran settlement agreement?
From Janet Stemwedel, a sense of how her institution is reacting to the #SheriSangji case: As you might expect, the official statement from UCLA plays up the improvements in lab safety put into place in the wake of the accident and points to the creation of the UC Center for Laboratory Safety, which has been holding workshops and surveying lab workers on safety practices and attitudes. I’m afraid, however, judging from the immediate reaction I’ve seen at my own […]
3:26 PM | "Sears sucks, Crash."
To C&EN Jobs' credit, it doesn't appear on the main list, so looks like someone may have removed it unless you have the link or go searching for it. 
10:42 AM | Critical Questions for Big Data by danah boyd & Kate Crawford
I’m teaching a class this summer in the Lede Program, starting in mid-July, which is called The Platform. Here’s the course description: This course begins with the idea that computing tools are the products of human ingenuity and effort. They are never neutral and carry with them the biases of their designers and their design […]

June 30, 2014

3:55 PM | A snapshot of the current job market
From a worthwhile article by Linda Wang in this week's C&EN on chemical technician positions, a little side comment on how things are going for M.S. and Ph.D. chemists:...Competition for chemical technician positions is intense. Lauren Gaskell, who has a master’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences, decided to become a chemical technician because she loves working in the lab. After looking for a job for more than a year, she recently found a temporary position as a chemical […]
3:43 PM | A new post-publication review website, Synvaluate
This new website, Synvaluate, is very interesting -- basically, it's an review site for synthetic procedures. It's being worked on by Davin Piercey, an explosives chemist. I like the graphic style that I've seen so far. Quintus is reviewing some procedures, which is exciting. It will be interesting to see how the latest crop of post-publication review sites (e.g. PubPeer, SciBase) will work over time and which one will develop a large enough following (all of them?) to sustain a community […]
3:26 PM | The good old days
I wonder if C&EN should have a routine feature of industrial chemists talking about days gone past. This letter to the editor by David Rorabacher is a nice example:...Having enjoyed both high school biology and physics, I became a biophysics major in college and, as such, finally took an introductory chemistry course as a sophomore. There I was turned on as much by the glassware and equipment as by the chemistry itself. By the end of my junior year, I concluded there were more job […]
3:18 PM | This week's C&EN
Notes from a perusal of this week's issue:This mechanochemistry story by Beth Halford is disappointing news -- good to know it's being corrected. In a story by Mitch Jacoby about wood products, a really nice picture of an open reactor. (Empty, I hope.) Jeff Johnson reports on congressional and managerial turmoil at the Chemical Safety Board. Non va bene. There are games hidden in Agilent HPLCs?!!? (by Sophia Cai)This Editor's Page column by Rick Mullin on poetry was truly […]
10:51 AM | Thanks for a great case study, Facebook!
I’m super excited about the recent “mood study” that was done on Facebook. It constitutes a great case study on data experimentation that I’ll use for my Lede Program class when it starts mid-July. It was first brought to my attention by one of my Lede Program students, Timothy Sandoval. My friend Ernest Davis at […]

June 29, 2014

3:48 PM | Sleeper agents in the (somewhat) enchanted biosphere
When I was a young boy, I was afraid of creatures I called "hoppers" who I believed lurked under my bed. They were patterned after animated cartoon figures appearing in the closing credits of "Fractured Fairytales," a segment of the popular children's television program "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show." My bedroom had to be checked each night for these creatures before I could enter and go to sleep.Of course, over time, the hoppers disappeared from under my bed. But, the world never quite lost […]

June 28, 2014

12:43 PM | Aunt Pythia’s advice
Aunt Pythia has missed you guys, and apologizes for the last two weeks of lost advice-giving opportunities. Her metaphorical advice bus broke down, but it’s back on the road again, it’s got a full tank of gas, and we’re ready to drive anywhere. It’s kind of a luxury winnebego advice bus today, I’m thinking. Here’s the […]

June 27, 2014

3:16 PM | Lab manager charged with making false statements by the feds
Via Ed Silverman, I see that the stakes of faking results for grant money have just been raised (emphases mine): Dong-Pyou Han, who worked as a laboratory manager at the university, confessed to spiking samples of rabbit blood with human antibodies to make an experimental HIV vaccine appear to have great promise, the AP continues. Another lab uncovered irregularities that suggested the results were actually false, according to the criminal complaint. Han, 57, was indicted last week on […]
2:57 PM | Traces of internal migration
Chad Orzel, in the midst of talking about rural poverty and the relative difficulties of moving from one region of the US to another, has an interesting note about a more modern migration:This is a topic that’s relevant to my interests because of where I grew up, in a small town in central New York state, during a time when the local industries were all packing up and moving away. I’ve seen a lot of people struggle with this– when I was a kid, it was a rare year that we […]
11:43 AM | We are not ready for health data mining
There have been two articles very recently about how great health data mining could be if we could only link up all the data sets. Larry Page from Google thinks so, which doesn’t surprise anyone, and separately we are seeing that the consequence of the new medical payment system through the ACA is giving medical systems […]

June 26, 2014

7:06 PM | Proud to say, I've been rejected by Nature Chemistry
This was pretty fun, and pretty funny. But I should say that it was 99.5% my coworker's ideas and efforts. 
11:36 AM | Unsolicited advice about having kids
You know how it’s better to have a discussion with someone when you’re calm and they haven’t just done something that drives you absolutely nuts? Well I’m going to generalize to the parenting advice realm: best time to give parenting advice is not when you’ve just seen a kid get poorly parented or a parent […]

June 25, 2014

5:12 PM | C&EN full story on the Harran settlement
Here's Michael Torrice and Jyllian Kemsley's full story on last Friday's hearing in the #SheriSangji case. The most important part, in my opinion, is an explanation on the part of the Los Angeles District Attorney's office as to what they were thinking: (emphasis mine):...The DA’s office didn’t negotiate a deal with Harran until after his preliminary hearing to ensure there was a public record of what happened in the accident, says head deputy DA Craig W. Hum. ...As part of the […]
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