Category: organic gripes

Chemical Shortcuts

I was writing some lecture notes this morning when it occurred to me that I’d probably never told my students of some shortcuts that are really useful. I was trying to draw structures for a synthetic route towards paclitaxel…trying is the operative word unless you are aware of what a SMILES string is and the…

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A Chemical Treasure Hunt

If you’ve been reading here for a while, you’ll know that one of my projects is to work with the Blists Hill museum to identify the contents of jars in its Victorian Pharmacy.  This is a fairly slow process, mainly due to the constraints of other pressing tasks such as teaching, but it is a…

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3 Years of Academia Nuts

I have been a lecturer at a UK university for just over 3 years.  This means that I’ve passed probation, completed the teaching in higher education course and submitted a handful of research grant applications including the EPSRC first grant.  I work at an institution which values teaching and research equally, something that drew me…

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On Third Year Projects

It’s the time of year again when our soon-to-be third years are picking their final year research projects.  From some of the conversations I’ve had, the message of ‘pick the project not the supervisor’ has been well emphasised, perhaps overly so, but few people are happy when half the class picks one or two academics. …

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Chemists, Chemicals and Risk…

There’s a guest bog post on Scientific American this afternoon that’s gotten a few chemistry types (myself included) in a bit of a tangle on Twitter.  It’s been written by one David Ropeik who wrote a book on risk.  In summary, it’s a bit of a chemist bash centred on the notion that International Year…

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Video Friday: Arsenic Munching Bugs!

An extremely topical video this week.  The Periodic Table of Video’s Martyn Poliakoff discusses whether arsenic can replace phosphorous in DNA and other biomolecules.  This is following the discovery of bacteria that can survive in arsenic rich environments and possibly incorporate the arsenic into their molecules in place of phosphorus.    If you wish to…

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Blowing Apart Stereotypes

Google chemistry.  Go to the images tab. What do you see? Probably a variety of pictures but I’m guessing a significant majority involve laboratory glassware (which is not the sole property of the chemists) filled with brightly coloured liquids.  There’s probably also a couple of your mad professor types in there, and a few images…

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