Articles by: boyie

Why is science important?

A new movie was recently made answering the question, “Why is science important?”

This is a really short post since I’m currently jetlagged, but this movie is..well, it’s definitely a must-see. My only gripe is that they ignore chemistry and go more around biology and physics. So, my question to the readers of the blog is…

Why is chemistry important?

P.S. I found this wonderful website from Berkeley called Understanding Science. It puts things in perspective for the public. Give it a look as well! Highly recommended ^_^ Understanding Science

By March 11, 2009 8 comments Uncategorized

The Nano Song – Chemical Edutainment Done Right

So ACS has the Nanotation contest right now trying to find the most entertaining way to explain the concept of Nano. These people from Berkeley have done an amazing job*, so Mitch, I want you to hook up a brotha (me) with these people. I showed it to my niece and she memorized the song today and said:

boyie’s cute five year old niece: “i’m going to teach my teacher about nanotechnology!”

I present to y’all, the Nano Song.

* chemistry-blog does not officially endorse the video for the nano contest (unless Mitch deems it so), but boyie sure does love the nanosong.

By March 1, 2009 5 comments chem 2.0, fun

I’m dumb, but it’s okay!

So like most grad students, I’ve been feeling extremely retarded lately. Experiments are giving me weird (and quite repeatable results) that throw a wrench into my understanding of what I’m doing, I’m ending up with different products from the same synthesis, and I’m getting all types of twinning (tropochemical, pseudo-merohedral, etc, etc) in an allegedly ‘single’ crystal. In other words, I feel dumb.

However, after commiserating with my fellow grad students, and eventually with the parental units, I was lead to an interesting article published way back in the day in the Journal of Cell Science.

The importance of stupidity in scientific research

It definitely made me feel better, and I’d like to add some things that my dad (who was once a grad student and is now a chemistry prof as well) told me.

If you dont feel stupid every now and then…
1) …you’re not picking the ‘right’ research question
2) …you’re not working hard enough to get results that stump you
3) …you really dont understand enough about your project
4) …you’re way too arrogant and belong in business school instead (no, he really didnt say that)

But, he did add the caveats that you did need to feel smart and accomplished every now and then or else you just dont know what you’re doing (it goes along with #3)

so to everyone out there who feels dumb on occasion from their research, remember, it’s okay! Just keep on truckin!

By February 23, 2009 8 comments opinion

So you’re thinking about graduate school…

First off, I’d like to congratulate noel and everyone else who has gotten into graduate schools thus far. Considering the economy, applications are up and it’s even more competitive than ever. However, I have had some friends get rejected and start to freak out, which is of course, natural, and I asked, why do you want to go to graduate school?

I got the response: I want to be a professor. Okay, I said, of what? Um..a research professor, she said. Okay…why?

The pause really didnt come to me as a surprise. Yes, the economy is bad right now. However, graduate school should not be looked at as a way of escaping the real world. Grad school is hard, you will feel stupid, you will be frustrated and there will be multiple times you want to quit.

But, but..Boyie, I <3 chemistry. Bull. Crap. Maybe 1% of the people in graduate school love chemistry. People have multiple reasons for doing it, and most dont involve loving chemistry, but the thing is, most people who eventually succeed have /STRONG/ motivations to do it.

But, but…Boyie, I’m smart, isnt graduate school the next logical step? Again, I have seen LOTS of smart people drop out. Why? Various reasons such as “I just didnt think it was right for me”, “I felt stupid”, “I dont want to spend 5 years working on the same problem”, and “I just dont like research.” All those answers are things that could have been avoided. I am fortunate enough to attend a prestigious program and I know people would kill for the slots that have just opened up as a result of people dropping out. So really, think about why you want to go to graduate school.

When I was applying, my father and my undergraduate research advisors asked me the following questions as a reflection of sorts to see if I had the strength of will to make it. So, I present to you, the questions I was asked.

1) Why chemistry?
2) Why graduate school?
3) What do you see yourself doing in 5, 10, 15 years?
4) Is a PhD really required for that?
5) Again, why graduate school?
6) What do you like about research?
7) Name five influential people in your chosen field.
8) What did they do?
9) What do you want to contribute to science?
10) What do you want to contribute to chemistry?
11) Are you okay with feeling stupid?
12) Are you okay with slamming your head against a wall?
13) Finally, why graduate school in chemistry?

Yes, there were 13 questions, three repeat, but looking back on it it’s a very important question. So, for those of you about to enter, I highly recommend doing this exercise. Be honest with yourself for the answers, and g’luck!

By January 30, 2009 7 comments opinion