January 30, 2009 at 11:05 am | | science community

Whoa. Djerassi is pissed at Trost.

[Trost’s] demeaning treatment of the key work of earlier investigators in the field of natural products by chemists who then undertake the total synthesis of the molecule in question is unfortunately all too common—either because of sloppiness or as a discreet attempt to eliminate any reference to the initial discoverers. (C&E News)

I don’t know the whole story here—does this go back to previous battles between the two Stanford profs? does Trost have something against Pettit?—but it’s certainly entertaining!

I agree with Djerassi that citing original work is important. However, at some point, we should be able to move on and cite reviews of an entire field. Also, I’m not sure C&E News is an appropriate forum to call out one individual: Trost’s paper is not the only example of inadequate citation.

UPDATE: I’m also a little confused, because the Trost paper does cite Pettit … at least three times. Maybe they aren’t the original papers, so it doesn’t look like Pettit worked with bryostatin first?

jobs anyone?

January 26, 2009 at 3:03 pm | | grad life, job search, science community

I need to start looking for a job.

W. E. Moerner, a chemistry professor at Stanford University, says he has a couple of Ph.D. students aiming to graduate later this year, and he is worried about their ability to find positions. “This is only a concern right now, as they have most of the year to finish,” he says. (C&E News)


Meet Data

January 21, 2009 at 4:36 pm | | grad life

My wife and I recently adopted this little guy.  Originally my wife was shopping scientist names for him, but I’ve always thought that was a little too cliche.  Were it up to me, he’d be named Yossarian, but you’re supposed to go 2 syllables.  After hitting all the obvious candidates, we had reach a soft agreement on “Fermi,” since I’ve always wanted a white cat named Fermi.  And about $3.50.


It was about that time I realized the Fermi idea originated from the eminent Lt. Commander Data’s own cat Fermi, at which point the choice of naming was clear.  They’re both pale white, frequently cock their heads and stare blankly, and I can only imagine an android also relieves himself in postures a contortionist would find impossible to achieve.


While formally named after the TNG character, our choice of alias also satisfied an ulteriour motive.  In the incidence where I get caught going home early, I can confidently tell my boss, “Don’t worry, I’m going home to play with my Data.”

ask not…

January 20, 2009 at 8:27 am | | news

In honor of Barack Obama’s inauguration today, I would like to quote the ravings of a homeless man I heard in the street last night:

John F. Kennedy! John F. Kennedy! Ask not what he can do for your country. Ask for what you got!

Good luck, President Obama.

JACSes’s new cover!

January 15, 2009 at 10:48 am | | literature, news, science community

Holy crap! JACS has decided to put art on its covers!!!!1!!

jacs-coverI think that’s a terrible idea. JACS was the only major chemistry journal not to frill up its cover with some bullshit pictures of some pseudosciencey research. Now it’ll probably go the way of Angewandte and have penguins and shit on its covers.

JACS used to be the classy journal of chemistry—a real gentleman’s journal. Now it’s just another noisy mag on the shelf. I encourage ACS to reverse their decision to deflower their flagship journal.

All the JACSβ stuff on the website is cool. If you want to make a JACS Facebook page and have podcasts where someone reads an entire paper word-for-word, that’s fine with me. Even the image challenges are cool (even though I get 90% of them wrong because I don’t have the patience to read all the options). But stay away from the beautiful, clean cover.

Maybe Google should change their homepage to look like Excite?

structured mouthfeel

January 13, 2009 at 11:04 am | | grad life

My bag coffee beans reads the following:

Rwanda. Dusty sweet. Dry yet juicy complexity delivers a well balanced flavor experience. Nice mouthfeel with structure. Acidity is full but not overblown. Tight citrus blossom and muscavado sugar aromas.

Whoa. I don’t taste any tight blossoms or structure. My labmate suggested that maybe they used Penta Water for the structure. I think that the structure comes from the coffee matrix being below its glass transition temperature.

Anyway, the coffee is really good.

make your science sexy

January 7, 2009 at 7:15 pm | | crazy figure contest, hardware, literature, science and the public, science@home

This machine is the closest some graduate students get to the Real Thing:


“Finally, theories proposed for the mechanism of breakage were investigated on a laboratory coital model.”

Source: White, N.; Hill, D.; Bodemeier, S. Male condoms that break in use do so mostly by a “blunt puncture” mechanism. Contraception 2008, 77, 360-365. (Also reported in Nature’s news section here.)

The Importance of Stupidity in Scientific Research

January 4, 2009 at 3:06 pm | | grad life, literature, science community


I came across an interesting essay about the scientific process.  I agree with the author that students are generally shielded from the  difficulty of doing research until graduate school.  I think that the reality of lab work can be made clear if modern lab classes were less “cook book” and more research-like.  Your thoughts?

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