Tuesday, May 26, 2009


The best session beer in the front range is Dale's Pale Ale.

So imagine my surprise when I was at the new and improved Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont. We were minding our own business when an "employee" showed up on a bike. My friend Terri visiting from Austin said "I think that is Dale". And I looked at him and doubted that he was indeed the Beer Baron. So just to prove her wrong I asked if he was indeed Dale. And he just said "Yeah". I had to get a picture.

Jason, I know you are jealous.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Magic Cyclooctane

You've heard of the magic eight ball? Let me introduce you to the magic cyclooctane. Are you having trouble with your chemistry? Ask the magic cyclooctane and your question will be answered!

Just print it out and put it on another piece of paper. Put a thumbtack through the s-orbital in the middle and spin to get an answer.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Prebiotic RNA Chemistry

An article scheduled to be published in Science today describes a route to the RNA nucleotides from simple precursors found on prebiotic earth. I read about it in the NY times (also here).

There are a few things that I thought were really cool about this. One, that there were actual organic structures published in a NY times article. As far as the science goes, this excerpt from the article was striking.

"The diagram above shows, in blue, the reaction that doesn't work and, in green, the new work-around.

"Working through all possible chemical combinations for 10 years, Dr. Sutherland's team discovered a different and quite unintuitive route. Their reaction system, shown in green, combines the carbon-nitrogen chemistry that leads to the bases with the carbon-oxygen chemistry that makes the sugars. They make a half-sugar/half-base (11), add another half-sugar (12) and then a half-base to make an intermediate (13) that easily becomes ribo-cytidine phosphate."

I guess what I thought was interesting was how scientists' nomenclature and classification of the chemical 'parts' of RNA, the sugar backbone, a base, and a phosphate group, stopped them from considering alternative retrosyntheses which don't involve these pieces and prevented thinking of alternate bond disconnections.

Finally, I thought total synthesis was bad. Imagine total synthesis where the only starting materials you have to work with are simple organic compounds known to exist 1 billion years ago on earth. Maybe that's why it took this guy 10 years to make something you can probably buy from aldrich.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

hot twig action

Now that I've beaten down my pile of journals I'm really going against my nature and keeping on top of them. This little beauty is from last year, but at least it hasn't been on my desk languishing for all that time.

People in general are into all sorts of weird shit, but as soon as the weirdness is something sexual it becomes taboo, and everyone wants to discuss it while denying any odd proclivities on their part. Perhaps not unexpectedly sexual deviation in the animal kingdom is rare, most likely due to a combination of lower occurrence and lack of documentation, but occasionally it shows up while some bio guy is there with a camera.

Science, 2008, 320, 591

The event went on for 45 min, which makes me wonder if it was at all like a bunch of guys sitting around watching a porn. 5-10 minutes of excitement, 10-15 minutes of discomfort upon realization that you are aroused when surrounded by nothing but people you can't/won't involve in any sexual activity, and then boredom until the event is over.

The stick business makes total sense though, who doesn't want some good lumber every now and then.

Friday, May 8, 2009

the wonders of palladium

I've been making jewelry lately as a hobby. Right now I'm part way through a really nice ring for my girlfriend, and when I was designing the ring for her I figured I would make a simple band for myself too. I don't really like to wear jewelry, and certainly don't want something fussy or easily damaged, so simpler was better.

These days gold is hovering around $1,000/oz (using the bastard troy ounce and not the much more useful and common avoirdupois ounce) and platinum is somewhat higher. Kitco has a nice set of precious metal charts with both current and historic prices (www.kitco.com/charts/). Interestingly palladium is a jewelry metal that has some working properties that are similar to platinum, and this last year the palladium market took a shit, dropping to below $200/oz for a bit.

So when I ordered the metal for my lady, I got some Pd for me, to use when there was a lull in projects. As it happened the other night one popped up, and I had the bar of Pd with me at the time. I did a couple of simple operations to turn my little grey rod of 95.0% Pd into a flat bar to make into a ring shank.

I'm such a nerd I even make notes to myself as I'm working on recreational shit

I rolled it down a few more times, and then annealed it to ease the bending processes to come, and, wouldn't you know it, that little fucker blistered on me.

top view, one is on the left and one middle right

profile of other side of the bar

I'm a little pissed, since the thing is essentially ruined, but I've never worked with this metal before so I don't know if I fucked up or it was a bad ingot to begin with. Hopefully the company I got it from will help me out.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

need tutors for electochemistery so importent

Apparently there are some pretty sharp chemists in Wyoming. Here is an email I just got for MASTER level tutoring. From the subject line of the email I am under the impression that it was very "importent" that these students in "electrochemistery" get a tutor. I will let them make their case.

My name is Naha Al- habis and my friend name is Reeham we are MASTER student in chemical engineering we need a help to understand some problem in electrochemistry so which time do you have so we could come and ask you about it and we need an appointment as soon as possible bcoz we are from Laramie and we should hand in it in friday 8th of may and in monday and thursday we have an exam so plz give me a response as soon as possible.
Thank you