Thursday, October 14, 2010

art in science

I saw this hanging in a friend's lab in my building; he said it came from one of the custodial staff a while back.

It's a pencil drawing, with the expected smudges from age, and it's really, really well done. I think it's wild that a custodian would have such impressive skills, want to draw a lab apparatus, and then donate the product!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

shit like this amazes me

I didn't look to see if there was an easier way to do this or not, but it would surprise me if there weren't. Look at the transformation from 5 (the first compound) to 13, near the end.

They turned a compound with a 3-carbon chain with 2 oxygenated centers into a compound with 5 skeletal carbons and 4 oxygenated centers in 13 steps. 13 steps!! They even used a chiral auxiliary to re-set the only chiral center in the starting material, making the choice of using it questionable.

The longest linear sequence is 24 steps, not including the 12 step synthesis of the other half of the target. In the end making it the crude equivalent of 1 step per member of the macrolactam, ouch.

Monday, October 11, 2010

what? I don't get it

I have a New Yorker daily cartoon desk calendar. It was a gift last xmas, and sometimes it's nice to start the day with a cute or funny cartoon. Unfortunately the New Yorker is a poor resource for this. I often wonder why people would read that particular rag, and after having the cartoons, I wonder even further. Some don't even make sense:

There were definitely some good ones in there, but by and large they were weak or poor. I would have expected the calendar to be a showcase, a sort of best of, but I certainly hope it isn't, now that I've seen the dismal quality of the humor. It's almost as bad as the typical syndicated newspaper cartoon, except these guys have more time to write and, presumably, should have done a better job.

One of the few saving graces was a blog article, retelling another blog article, on boing boing earlier this that saved a good quarter of the cartoons (more than half were beyond saving). Simply replace the caption with "Christ, what an asshole!", and magically the humor is repaired.