Friday, July 31, 2009

big brass balls

I read a neat paper today in JACS. These guys used a laser to induce crystallization in a gel as a super sweet way to control crystal nucleation. As an example of their laser-jock prowess they exhibited Figure 1:

Laser? I hardly knows her!

In an odd way I love it when people do things like this. It's like they're saying "Our shit is so awesome we can dick around and pull off things only dreamt of a few decades ago as an exercise in fun and games", but in a much less insulting way.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

more errors

Jim should like this one. In today's JACS ASAPs someone has a four component reaction, and published this graphical abstract on the website:

nice colors

I looked at it for a second not knowing what was wrong, but that something was up. Then I noticed that they have the same nitrile containing amide twice with different colors and slightly different drawing conventions. I assume that they used the colors for clarity of functional group positioning in the product, and that the difference in nitrile representation is simply a typo. However they may just be trying to make themselves look good, and indicate more strongly that the two components that are the same component are in fact two components. As everyone knows the greater the number of components in your multi-component reaction, the larger your chemistry phallus appears to be.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I spent this last week helping my Hot Baby move to California. Aside form the usual bits of car trouble and bad weather, it went very well.

The first part was spent in Austin packing, preparing and saying goodbye to people. I miss Austin a lot, but seeing things like the Cathedral of Junk, which I was unaware of when I lived there, make me miss it even more. Here's a grainy video I took of one small part of the Cathedral.

not bad for a vid from a phone, really

The drive to the bay area was long and, mostly, uneventful with some beautiful views once we were out of west Texas. Once we made it to the East bay, the usual housing issues were resolved, and there was even some time for sightseeing. We even had a chance to go out with Hillary and Dave for dinner and drinks one night.

As it turns out, all the bad things you hear about Oakland are entirely true. just look at the size of the rats in out hotel bathroom!

the dark one is longer than the toilet bowl when layed out

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Feynman Lectures

I just found out about this really cool series of lectures at Cornell by Richard Feynman on physics. I have only watched the first lecture, but he does better than anyone I have ever seen at describing in a simple and interesting way the process of scientific discovery. Highly recommended.

There are seven lectures included on various topics. Click here to watch.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Allyl Amines - A Long Standing Problem

According to a recent journal article I read, allyl amines are among the most useful of synthetic intermediates. I happen to agree. If only there were a convenient and cost-effective way to make these compounds. Let me think. OK. Amines are good nucleophiles. And allyl halides are great electrophiles. Maybe if I mixed those together, I could get my precious allyl amine.

No. You idiot. That is way too complicated. There is a MUCH easier way. Just mix this "simple" gold catalyst with your amine and an allene at 100 degrees for 12 hours. And BAM! you got an allyl amine.

But wait you ask. What about other allenes than the one in the abstract picture above. Don't worry, they tried those too.

Finally, an easy way to make N-allyl morpholine! Check out the awesome E/Z selectivity with unsymmetrical allenes! Allenes as starting materials, what a great idea! They are so easy to make, especially these low molecular weight ones!

The world was waiting for a solution to this long standing problem in organic chemistry. Thank you for this. Nobel! Nobel!

Tip of the hat to Dr. B. Mike O'Keefe for pointing out this gem.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

highly Michael

I'm having my lunch and reading and the very first article I see is this:

I'm sure many of you saw this before me, but damn. That's a pretty big fuck up, in my book.


Moments later I saw that the very next paper has a botch in its graphical abstract.

The chemistry isn't earth shattering, but I was so confused by the graphical abstract, that I read it to see what the hell was going on. In a way their mistake got me to read a paper I would have otherwise blown by.

It's like Org. Lett. has taken the week off from editing for the holidays.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

gram scale

It took me a few months longer than I would have liked, but I finally got there. Here are two large (if I do say so myself) bottles of >99% ee enantiomers of my branching point compound. There should be more than 100 g of each, and there is a bit more coming through the resolution still. This is the culmination of seven steps and one resolution.

take that, Baran

It took a hell of a lot longer to get here than I had planned, but now I should be able to make dozens of targets and their enantiomers without ever having to repeat any of those steps again.