It is week 10 of the semester here and that means that everyone is pretty fraught. Deadlines, marking, the uncovery of under- or un-prepared lectures right before Christmas and for some, the residual effects of REF2014. Despite all that, there are a few reasons to be cheerful, if a little perplexed.
1. Inviting a class to indicate the splitting of peaks on NMR by holding an appropriate number of fingers in the air will (in hindsight, quite predictably) lead to half the class taking the opportunity to stick one or two fingers up at you. What is surprising is that it is fairly challenging to remember to put your own hands round the right (non-profane) way when doing it too.
2. Chemical reactions do not stop because you have turned the stirrer plate off.
3. Most chemical reactions take lengths of time approximately equal to (a) how long the experimenter wanted to go home for overnight, (b) a weekend or long weekend, (c) the length of time between starting the reaction and returning from lunch. The arbitrary nature of these timings mean that it is almost critical to replicate the reason for these timings when performing similar reactions. At least, that’s how the current crop of reactions are going.
4. Sometimes chemical reactions work the way they are supposed to.
5. Sometimes chemical reactions do not do as described in literature preps, and sometimes the ‘common advice’ given in those circumstances is utterly and totally wrong. Yes, that might be a 1 in a 1000 reaction distinction but it is important.
6. When doing outreach with primary school age children, do not be surprised when they understand the intricacies of having to cook a Christmas cake in advance and let it ‘sit’ for a few days. They pay attention.
7. Making PVA slime is the energy minimum for the room. It exerts an almost gravitational like pull on those in the room to come and do it. Always take extra helpers.
8. This: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qniwI2hNhDs [yes it is a YouTube video, yes it is safe for work, yes you do need sound]
9. And this: http://www.waterstones.com/blog/2013/12/introducing-o-w-l-s/