Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas decorations for chemists

As I was decorating the Christmas tree today I found some of my chemistry contributions to the festive season. First up is my carbohydrate paper cone that I received as a gift some years ago:
And then there's this very old distillation receiving flask that looks great on the Christmas tree: Notice how they have marked each of the receiving arms with small blue coloured glass bumps. Okay that really is it until next year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. D!

Friday, December 21, 2007


Some time ago when I was ranting about papers, authors and so on I promised a post on open access journals, more specifically PLoS: Public Library of Science. I'll leave the Open Access issue for another day, suffice to say it's something I like very much. Anyway, the PLoS journals have several neat features:
(1) Upon submission of a paper to a PLoS journal each author receives an email from the journal where (in detail) they have to justify why their names are on the paper. Until this process has been completed the paper will not be considered for publication.
(2) If the paper gets published it will contain an account of what each author has contributed to the paper.
This is all about transparency and not getting on the paper for doing routine work or just as a favour to a buddy. Obviously, the system still isn't perfect but it applies some pressure on the authors. It makes them think about the whole process and I bet that it gets rid of most of the crap you get in ordinary journals.
And there's more:
(3) PLoS journals have good to high impact factors. In other words people contribute good work to these journals.
(4) Readers can post comments and questions on the paper and the authors can respond. Just like a blog.
(5) If the authors make an important discovery relating to the paper they can add more data to the original publication. How cool is that? I wish I could do that with some of my publications. The extra data still has to go through peer review which makes it even better.
So why am I not publishing all my papers in open access journals. Well chemistry still hasn't caught up with things in this area. There are things happening but compared to what's going on in biology we have a long way to go. However, this is the way of the future and the journals know it so they will have to adapt. Recently, a bill that required all NIH funded research to be published in open access journals was vetoed at a late stage by President Bush so things are certainly bubbling away in this area.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year people. No more posting this year. See you in 2008 and thanks for all the interesting and very encouraging emails. D!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Colourful Chemistry

I'm doing lots of new chemistry in my new job which is great. Since I started my career as an organic chemist more or less everything has been supposed to be colourless or white.
What makes the chemistry I'm doing now even greater is that it has colour whilst still being organic chemistry.
Here's some recent pretty pictures. Check out my beautiful green reaction.
And how about this product from another reaction? Initially I assumed that the product was impure but what do you know it's supposed to like like this.
In your face inorganic chemists! Can anyone guess what I made? It is a classic reaction taught in first year university organic chemistry. It's nice to see the chemistry I have been teaching undergraduates is useful and actually works in the lab. D!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Compound Characterisation in Industry

As I have mentioned previously I'm back working in industry/biotech. One of my colleagues asked me an interesting question today:
What is the golden standard for compound characterisation in industry?
Where we work now we only do 1H NMR and LCMS. However, in my previous industry job we also did 13C NMR, full on 2D NMR and elemental analysis. What are you industry people out there doing and what are your views on this issue? D!