Thursday, October 25, 2007

Gone but not forgotten

Albert I. Meyers
November 22, 1932 - October 23, 2007

I was deeply saddened to hear that Al has passed away. He has been an inspiration to me for a long time. A genuinely nice man, he always encouraged students and colleagues to fulfill their potential. I remember as a young graduate student giving my first talk at an ACS meeting how nervous I was. Afterward Al came up to introduce himself and tell me what a good job I had done. Thanks Al, that did more for my confidence than anything else in my career. Organic Chemistry lost a great one this week. Rest in peace, Al.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Happy Mole Day

Happy Holiday Everyone! I think we all need to take the day off and spread the good word about Avogadro. Is anyone else celebrating?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

IBX (not Irritable Bowl Xyndrome)

I really like oxidation reactions but, for some reason, many students get confused about how they work. It's not really different than any other reaction. It's just electrons moving from one place to another. The problem is that we usually think it is weird to push electrons toward an oxygen at the same time break electrons off of an oxygen. However, in nearly every oxidation of alcohols, this is happening. Of course the requirement is that you have something attached to the oxygen that is more electrophilic. For example, highly oxidized Cr or S or, in the case of IBX or Dess Martin oxidations, I. Well, I saw this interesting paper in Angew. Chem. this week that used IBX to do an interesting double oxidation. It is a nice approach to the saxitoxin family of natural products. I thought I would share the mechanism for your edification. We don't often think about oxidizing past the ketone stage, but under enolization conditions and with the right structural features (beta nitrogen), you can oxidize the alpha carbon.

Iwamoto, O.; Koshino, H.; Hashizume, D.; Nagasawa, K., ACIEE, Early View

Friday, October 12, 2007

Al is the MAN!

From Senator, to Vice President, to President (well, he won the vote if not the chair in the Oval Office), to Oscar Winner, to Nobel Laureate. No one can say he hasn't accomplished something.

For his efforts in raising awareness about Man's influence on global climate change, Al shares the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize

Well Done, Al. I think this prize is well deserved.

Why is this on a chemistry blog? I believe chemistry will be instrumental in solving problems associated with global warming. It already is - from new energy technology to new efficient materials, chemistry leads the way.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

And the winner is . . .

Gerhardt Ertl for his work understanding the phenomenon of surface catalysis. In particular hydrogenation, CO2 reduction and more.

Read more about it here: 2007 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Tetrakis Talk

{greg the chemist dialing the phone}


AA: "Hello, this is Gregory from Alfa Aesar Technical Assistance. May I help you?"

GTC: "Yes, Hi. We have just received our order for 2 g of palladium tetrakis triphenylphospine. The shipment we received is sealed in an ampule but has a dark green color. Can we replace it with some good catalyst?"

AA: "Well, our palladium tetrakis comes in three different colors; yellow, green and brown."

GTC: "But this should be bright yellow."

AA: "We have analyzed our product and chemically it is the same. It should work fine for you."

GTC: "Palladium Tetrakis should be bright yellow."

AA: "I can see that you don't want our product. I will issue a refund and you can send it back to us."

GTC: "Um. Great. Thank you very much."


GTC: "What the hell? Three different colors? No thanks. Why didn't we order from Strem in the first place?"

{sorry for the poor photos}