Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chinese Martial Arts

His royal highness, Dr. Hui Li, has directed me to some "exciting" new Chinese marital arts moves. I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunderhaus Sighting

The Fort Collins community is abuzz due to the recent alleged sighting of the illustrious Jim Sunderhaus. Accounts differ, but a number of unrelated sources have confirmed that Jim was indeed in the area. We have it on good authority that Mr. Sunderhaus will be permanently relocated to the Fort Collins area in the next few months. The Williams group will never be the same.
a picture of Jim in his native habitat

Friday, January 16, 2009

Worst JACS paper ever

Well, that is probably overstating things. JACS puts out some real shit sometimes. But I was particularly blown away with how lame this paper in today's ASAP's was.

I understand that fluorinated compounds are important in medicinal chemistry and such, but look at this reaction. You start with a stannane and then use two equivalents of silver triflate. So let's review. Three equivalents of heavy metals to make one C-F bond. This is not a great reaction. So how in the hell did it get accepted?

Oh that's how. Nice.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

bringing back the old school

I remember when I first started my PhD it was pretty common for the people in the group to use flash cards to learn and practice name reactions. In fact they flew around with such ubiquity that incoming postdocs would typically have to learn or re-learn a whole slew of them.

I would ask people for name reactions to study and add the suggestions to the pile of cards. One day while doing this the postdoc I was talking to harumphed when I got to the Ramberg-Bäcklund reaction. He commented that I shouldn't put less useful reactions in my cards, as they just take up space.

Ever since then I get sort of tickled when I see the Ramberg-Bäcklund in a new synthesis. I'll admit it's not very common, and by today's standards, really not too useful, but when it is used properly it is still pretty neat. So today, while piling through yet another day of ASAPs I ran into this:

The conversion of 27 to 5 is actually pretty sweet, and involves, of course, a Ramberg-Bäcklund.

No paper is without it's flaws, such as the implied enantiopurity of racemic 36, but the appropriate use of the classics is always welcome.

Also if anyone needs a named reactions book, get Bert's. It's totally sweet, chock full of a shitload of reactions, and really cheap (<$30 on 1-14-09 for the 2800 page pdf).

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

internet infamy

Dr. Miller neglected to mention that he and Brandon from Front Range Rants are featured on the front page of Deadpoint magazine right now.

Or you can skip directly to the source of the sending goodness photos.

Maybe we need to start calling him Dr. Send, or Prof. Hard Man now.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

ahh, bad schemes

During the literature's never ending assault on my time and already waning desire to continue being a scientist I stumbled on the following gem:

I was momentarily fooled, after only a passing glance, by the symmetric grid layout, and read on. I was interested in the fluorination step at the outset and looked for the conditions ... step g?

I looked back to see if I had somehow missed "a,b,c,d,e,f", or the more likely "a-f", but no they started with g. I then looked a little closer and noticed the diagonal arrows, arrows going up, curved arrows, and one molecule radiating arrows like a starburst. Ugh.

I emailed the link to Herr Professor Doktor Schatzi and he said "HAha, its awesome!! Looks like traffic directions....".

It seems odd to me that so many people have so much trouble with basic scheme layout. We all read from left to right, one line at a time, and then proceed down to the next line all of our lives; well westerners do, anyway. For some reason when synthetic chemistry related ideas are to be presented in graphic format along with the text people suddenly want to be Quentin Tarantino and reinvent the scheme. Like clarity and easy of use are secondary to the whim of the author. I would hope most authors have more than a touch of concern for the ability of the unknown reader to be able to access the information with little to no difficulties, but I suppose that's asking too much.

After all who gives a shit as to whether anyone reads you pub anyway? Wait, everyone cares. That's the whole point of publishing it. Why not spend 2 years or more on a project and follow that with a hastily written and poorly proofread manuscript to show the community just how little you care for the dissemination of ideas.

Maybe authors should spend a little more time a) making the info readily accessible and available, b) spell check, and c) continuous consistent formatting throughout the article and schemes would be nice.

Perhaps the only major faux pas this scheme lacks is the random flipping of molecules (front to back, left to right, or rotated >90 degrees) that everyone seems to hate, and yet makes it into a few papers virtually every journal printing.