Generally Speaking. On Monday, we were greeted with some light snowfall, and I don’t think it’s going to get much warmer while I’m here. Aaron from Wired Blog made the comment that attendance looks low at ACS in Salt Lake City. I agree, and I wonder if it’s a function of the economy. On the humorous side of science, there was a vendor in front of the Salt Palace this morning selling “Obamium” t-shirts. I didn’t get one (we live in a McCain/Palin household). Also, I’ve noticed that there isn’t a lot of ground-breaking synthetic organic chemistry being presented.
LENR = Cold Fusion? Not quite a tabletop source of energy, but interesting nevertheless. Pamela Mosier-Boss, Steve Krivit, Antonella De Ninno and a few other experts took questions from a packed house about the interpretation of recent results surrounding advancements in low energy nuclear reactions (LENR). Those in attendance included Scott Chubb (of Infinite Energy fame), KSL-TV Channel 5 and the legendary Mitch Andre Garcia. I’m not even going to try and explain the crux of the talk (being a synthetic organic chemist, and all). However, the video of the press conference is available here, and I encourage you to check it out if you’re interested. Perhaps if you ask Mitch really nice, he’ll write a post on the ins and outs of the debate. While there are several critics of the research (for example, click here), the crux of the talk appeared to focus on recruiting young chemists to explore this “new” area of science.
Feel the Burn. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced their discovery of gas hydrates—“a frozen form of natural gas that bursts into flames at the touch of a match.” Tim Collett (project co-leader) claims that this work may bridge the gap between relatively dirty fossil fuels and clean energy because gas hydrates purportedly leave a small carbon footprint.
Just Scan it. I took a few moments to speak with Dr. Jeffrey Silk, president of Silk Scientific, about his digitizing software. I haven’t seen this sort of program before, so I’ll make the assumption that others haven’t either. The product (called “UN-SCAN-IT”) takes a chart, graph, HPLC trace, etc. and converts the image into data points, which can be dropped into a program such as Excel. With the “raw” datapoints, UN-SCAN-IT allows you to integrate, take derivatives, and perform curve fitting. If this sort of thing tickles your fancy, you can download a demo of the software here. For all of you bio-type peeps, Silk Scientific also sells a second program called “UN-SCAN-IT gel,” which acts as a densitometer for gel images. As for future generations of products for Silk Scientific, I suggested he make a program that will automatically solve 1H-NMR spectra.