notebook flair

January 10, 2011 at 3:06 pm | | great finds

I found this awesome old lab notebook in my lab.

The owner of this notebook had amazing taste! Apparently, he loved dinosaurs and liked to “work it.”

That made me smile today.

now that’s pure!

December 15, 2010 at 11:54 am | | everyday science, great finds

That’s very pure EDTA:

100.06% pure!

even the computer gods don’t want me to work on my thesis

November 11, 2009 at 2:14 pm | | everyday science, grad life, great finds

The driver to my video card exploded yesterday, right in the middle of working on my thesis. Easy to fix (thanks to Brian), but it took a major chunk of my thesis-writing time.

Then, on top of that, SNL was hosted by the greatest musical artist since that hairy guy who banged two rocks together. I had to watch that.

OK, back to the thesis…

how not to choose a title 101

September 8, 2009 at 3:12 am | | great finds, literature

It’s easy for one to find amusement in a poorly conceived figure or in a t-shirt attempting to show the structure of PCP but failing quite miserably or in the egregious cover of an Oxford University Press promotional booklet for ACS publications. But let us not overlook the gems of humor that we encounter everyday in the form of journal-article titles. Throughout the process of writing my dissertation, I have accumulated countless EndNote libraries, the entries of which are fertile grounds for laughter. I challenge you to improve upon these categories (or add new ones):

Greatest disregard for the importance of being concise:

Bennett, M. A.; Yoshida, T. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1978, 100, 1750-1759.

long title
Most dizzying:

Arroyo, M.; Bernès, S.; Brianso, J. L.; Mayoral, E.; Richards, R. L.; Rius, J.; Torrens, H. J. Organomet. Chem. 2000, 599, 170–177.

Most [{(=flamboyant=)}]:

López, O.; Crespo, M.; Font-Bardía, M.; Solans, X. Organometallics 1997, 16, 1233-1240.

Most clichéd:
Gaydos, C. A. Neurology 2001, 56, 1126-1127.


Longest running series (most pretentious?):
ten Brink, G.-J.; Arends, I. W. C. E.; Hoogenraad, M.; Verspui, G.; Sheldon, R. A. Adv. Synth. Catal.
2003, 345, 1341-1352.

longest series
Most in need of an editor (and a vacuum pump to remove those 0.88 +/- 0.04 molecules of methylene chloride):

Usón, R.; Forniés, J.; Espinet, P.; Garcia, A.; Tomas, M.; Foces-Foces, M.; Cano, F. H. J. Organomet. Chem. 1985, 282, C35-C38.

I still have four chapters of my dissertation to write and only four days before a draft is due to my committee.  I can’t help but to ask myself, Is this the best use of my time?

electronics cleanup

December 19, 2008 at 2:27 pm | | everyday science, grad life, great finds, hardware

We needed to move several pieces of electronic equipment from a table because they were “blocking” some circuit-breaker boxes. So we discarded of all the spare monitors that were stored under laser tables to make room for the no homeless equipment:


In the process, we found some desiccated rats. W.E. found one that had a frikkin’ wasp nest growing inside it.


Weird. And very gross.

khemistry klassics

December 5, 2008 at 3:49 pm | | great finds, history, open thread, science community

I want to start collecting the great (humorous) chemistry papers. Below are some that I can think of. Please comment with more!

  • One of the best quotes in a chemistry paper is the following: “This work will be continued and I wish to reserve the field for myself.” (Gomberg, M. An Instance of Trivalent Carbon: TriphenylmethylJ. Am. Chem. Soc. 190022(11), 757–771.)
  • A good April-fool’s article is Dick Zare’s (Wayne Knox’s) zero-fs pulse. (Knox, Knox, Hoose, Zare. Observation of the 0-fs pulse. Optics and Photonics News, April 1990.) This one also has a great quote at the end: “We are investigating possible violations of thermodynamics. Somebody’s pulses must be getting longer.”
  • The Alpher, Bethe, Gamow paper has it’s own Wikipedia entry! (Alpher, Bethe, Gammow. The Origin of Chemical ElementsPhysical Review, 1948, 73(7), 803-804.) Gammow, a jokester, added Bethe without his knowledge in order to have the names sound like the first three Greek letters. I guess Alpher—the grad student on the paper—was very reluctant to add Bethe, and has always worried that it took away some of his credit. Bethe did see the paper before it was published.
  • This is a new “classic,” but the TOC art really got a lot of internet press. (Toma, et al. Inorg. Chem. 200443, 3521-3527.) Was it intentional? Also funny: the TOC image is missing from ACS right now!

  • I really want to find that paper with the man fishing in the glassware. Anyone remember the citation?

Anyway, please let me know if you think any other papers should be included in this humorous group.

metabolic pathways made easy

September 25, 2008 at 8:05 am | | crazy figure contest, great finds

Nick was kind enough to send our lab this helpful chart of metabolism pathways (from Sigma Aldrich):

I think Nick put it best: “This really helps to put different aspects of metabolism into perspective.  Sort of.”

I want my Margarita to be NIST traceable

August 28, 2008 at 1:37 pm | | great finds, hardware, stupid technology

Presenting the Retsch Grindomix Laboratory Knife Mill (blender).  For a cool $3,589.73, you can “quickly and efficiently batch process a variety of dry, soft and medium-hard foodstuffs such as fresh fruits, meats, cheese, oilseeds, grains, breads and pastries.”  Sub-300 micron smoothies, mmmm.


July 17, 2008 at 2:38 pm | | grad life, great finds

The undergrads in my lab introduced me to a new phenomena called “rickrolling.”  Follow the link to the wikipedia explanation – weird stuff.  Source

the south is strange

July 9, 2008 at 8:44 am | | great finds

…Evidenced by this currency I received as change in Columbia, SC:

I was forced to spend it when I ran out of cash. Unfortunately, I handed it to a Black cashier in Chicago; I hope she didn’t notice.

I actually really like the South: I spent a few years in Chapel Hill, NC, and enjoyed it. Racism and anti-intellectualism is sickening, though.


July 3, 2008 at 12:52 pm | | everyday science, great finds, science@home, tutorial

I’m on vacation with my financier fiancée for a week in South Carolina: a few days at our friends’ wedding, a few days at Hilton Head, and a few days with my soon-to-be in-laws. The weather has been beautiful: heat and humidity reminding of my UNC days. The shark that swam past me gave me the creeps, but otherwise Hilton Head was perfect.

One strange event: a friend got a sunburn and a strange rash. The dermatologist asked if she had been making Mojitos or drinking Coronas. Huh? Diagnosis: Phytophotodermatitis. This is really cool: limes (and various other plants) contain furocoumarins (particularly psoralen, structure below), coumarin-type chromophores that absorb strongly in the UV.

Psoralens act as photosensitizers: absorbing UV light and releasing reactive triplets or radicals. With fluorescence quantum yields only around 1-2%, psoralens transition to the triplet state (via El-Sayed’s rule, I expect, from the Jablonski diagram below) and phosphoresce strongly. Chromophores stuck in their triplet state can return to the singlet ground state by coupling with triplet O2, producing a highly reactive singlet O2 species. This may be one mechanism of the photosensitizing properties of psoralens. Alternatively, a psoralen molecule in its triplet state can react directly with DNA or other biomolecules with electron-donating capability. Various other photosensitizing reactions are discussed in an interesting review (Kitamura, N.; Kohtani, S.; Nakagaki, R. J. Photochem. Photobiol. C 2005, 6, 168-185).

So, basically, my friend was spraying tan accelerator on her skin, then sitting in the sun for hours! That equals strangely shaped splotches of sunburn. In fact, psoralens have been used in photochemotherapy (also called PUVA) for certain skin ailments, such as eczema and psoriasis. So be careful squeezing limes on the beach, or picking parsnips or playing with celery in the sun.

Check out some doctory stories in this article: Weber, I. C.; Davis, C. P.; Greeson, D. M. J. Emer. Med. 1999, 17, 235-237.

filter your RSS feeds using Pipes

March 20, 2008 at 10:51 am | | great finds, science community, software, wild web

I read all my TOCs via RSS in Google Reader. Normally, this is just marvelous. However, some journals (e.g. Science and Nature) include a lot of junk along with the real science articles: news and whatnot. Also, PNAS has so many articles, it’s really hard to get through them all.

So I’ve started filtering some of those TOC RSS feeds using Yahoo! Pipes. (Click the image above for an example—the filter function is found under “Operators.”) So PNAS was easy, because they include the subject category in the title of each feed item. For Nature and Science, I need to find a way to filter out the news and fluff pieces somehow. Maybe there’s a keyword in those entries I can find.

Anyway, I just wanted to pass this along, because it’s really helpful. I know there are other RSS filters, but I like the versatility and ease of Yahoo! Pipes. Lemme know if you find any cool tricks!

Here’s a library of my edited feeds.

coffee physics

March 4, 2008 at 10:38 am | | EDSELs, great finds, literature

OK, is this a joke? Or is the author simply a bullshit artist?


Source: (Buffo, R. A.; Cardelli-Freire, C. Flavour and Fragrance Journal 2004,19, 99-104.)

I can forgive the εR-equals-zero-instead-of-unity mistake, but what does that have to do with CO2 release? And the glass-transition temperature? Seriously? Of a coffee bean?

edsel.jpgMy favorite part is that neither of those two ridiculous statements is cited.

OK, this wins an EDSEL for “Most creatively incorrect physical analysis of food chemistries.”

ISI at it again…

September 14, 2007 at 8:38 am | | great finds, literature, wild web

OK, someone over at ISI’s Web of Science has something on their mind. Last time, it was about ass probing. This time, it’s a little more direct:


I think they mean FACS.

I laughed out loud when I read that on my RSS reader. (Which, by the way, still gives me the wrong ACS feeds. I still don’t know what causes that: ACS says that it’s Google’s fault; Google won’t respond to my inquiries. Oh well, I’ll end up reading JOC by mistake sometimes.)

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