Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Depression seems to be the illness of the 21st century and for more than 15 years Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors have been the pill of choice. Yes, the number of prescriptions of these antidepressants (effexor, prozac, seroxat, etc) has increased exponentially. So much so that these drugs being excreted by humans is negatively affecting wildlife. With all the billions of dollars being spent on these drugs has anyone ever asked the question, Do they help? Well, psychologists at the University of Hull have reviewed the results of about 50 clinical trials. Their conclusions? SSRI antidepressants do not really seem to provide a benefit to most people as compared to placebos. Sure, there's a little evidence that they help to some extent the most severely depressed, but the large majority of the millions of prescriptions really are doing nothing but causing gender confusion among the fish and frogs.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Air Has Landed

The good, the bad and the ugly. Well, there's absolutely nothing ugly about the macbook air. It's absolutely gorgeous. Thin thin thin. It is much sturdier and lighter than I expected. It feels weightless. HUGE plusses for design and portability. The keyboard feels great. The screen looks fantastic. You can see some comparisons with my 15" macbook pro. It's definitely smaller by a long shot. I love the lighted keyboard. It seems to function even better than my MBP. 

As for performance, it's not the quickest horse out of the gate but it certainly wasn't as pokey as I expected based on the reviews out there. For most major tasks - keynote, pages, word, web browsing - it performs just fine. It even compared with my 2.0 GHz MBP in iphoto - granted with far fewer photos in the library. I don't need anything more intensive really, so this is good.

Did I mention it was thin? I can hardly tell it's in my bag when I carry it around. That's exactly what I need for traveling. For this reason it is fantastic for me.

One thing I noticed was that the charger works either way it is plugged in. I know some people have complained that the cord bends too much when plugged in if the plug is behind you. No worries. You can just attach the connector the other way around and no more 180 cord bending. The one negative thing that I would say is a real fault is the slow slow battery charging. I just noticed that it is only 35% charged after an hour plugged in when it was down to 15%. Apple, without a replaceable battery, you need to do better than this! Hopefully this can be resolved with a software update soon.

Overall I give this one Three Thumbs Up!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Something in the air

And it will be in my hands some time today! Just in time for me to take it on the plane tomorrow. Yes, the new Macbook Air is a perfect travel partner. I'll give you my review of it soon.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A new precatalyst for Heck Reactions

It's a beauty, isn't it? I mean, look at that monster! And it packs 4 palladium atoms per catalyst too. It just appeared in Organometallics (DOI: 10.1021/om7005613). They actually coupled together iodobenzene and styrene. The cool thing about this is that they could tune the reactivity of the catalyst by changing the metal complexed in the middle of the porphyrin. With M=MnCl it took almost 400 minutes for the reaction to complete, but with M=Mg it only took about 200 minutes. Ok, seriously. I don't mean to pick on Bart M. J. M. Suijkerbuijk, Sara D. Herreras Martínez, Gerard van Koten, and Robertus J. M. Klein Gebbink, but I really don't understand what the purpose of this research is. I guess you can get some understanding about the electronic nature of pincer ligands, but no one in their right mind would ever use something like this for a Heck reaction. It is pretty though. It even weighs 10 times more than your substrate. I guess that makes for easy weighing. Let's say you use 10 mol% of the catalyst. You can just use the same mass as iodobenzene and you're good to go.