Chemis-Trees have been all the raged on the chemistry Reddit this season. A select few are shown below. If you have one feel free to leave it in the comments and we’ll add it to the list.
from The University of Malta (@detox29)
MIT has fully embraced the power of the internet to educate outside the walls of its lecture halls. It offers anyone with an internet connection the ability to watch lectures from a large variety of classes through its OpenCourseWare (OCW) initiative. However, they have taken it a step further this year, and present the travails of a small cohort of chemistry freshman as they learn basic fundamental lab techniques in a crammed 4-week laboratory course. The top students in the class will be offered an opportunity to do research with a faculty member.
In many ways this is a smart program. It’s a nice way to make sure that undergrad researchers have basic skills before they ever step into a research lab. Below I’ve included their trailer and episodes 1 and 2 for your viewing pleasure. New episodes can be found at ChemLab Boot Camp as they get placed on the web.
More info: http://ocw.mit.edu/high-school/chemistry/chemistry-lab-boot-camp/
Episode 1: Great Expectations
Episode 2: Overwhelmed
It should be fun seeing how this pans out.
**Today’s post is a guest post by James Ashenhurst, author of the fantastic blog Master Organic Chemistry**
If Google Analytics is any guide, here’s what a year of teaching organic chemistry looks like.
The typical year’s forecast calls for growing concern from September onwards, peaking in a mid December monsoon. This is followed by a cold January lull, which collides with a hot front of anxiety in February and grows in intensity towards a thundering, extended period of hail from mid-April to mid-May. Then all becomes calm. Sunshine peeks through the summer clouds, and the months from late May through early August are breezy, steady, and smooth. Then the cycle begins again.
I’m interpreting seasonal local maxima as popular midterm times; it’s pretty neat that the results show this (and the Thanksgiving lull). Does this jive with your experience, readers?
P.S. A big double fist bump to @azmanam and the other kind folk at the Chemistry Blog for letting me post this and for helping MOC to be such a successful project (600K visitors this year & counting). Thanks!
As I have for the past several semesters, I have allowed students to write and perform awesome OChem videos. Many are song parodies, but not all. I’ve also gotten Jeopardy! parodies and Big Bang Theory parodies
The first semester I did this, I got one submission. This semester, I received 17 videos, and more than 90% of the class participated!
Here are some of the awesome videos:
I Just Had Lab (Lonely Island parody)
“Got a 2% Yield.” “Still counts!”
Like a Chemist (Far East Movement parody)
Nice production value with this one.
We Won’t Sleep (Fun parody)
I cameo as Superman in this one.
Diels-Alder Beautiful (One Direction Parody)
This next one is awesome because they incorporated the word ‘pericyclic-ly’ into the song… and made it rhyme. also, it’s about my favorite reaction, the Diels-Alder reaction.
Organic Chemistry Terms (Billy Joel parody)
And this one is impressive because it’s to the tune of ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire,’ every lyric is OChem related, and she made a timed PowerPoint to illustrate every lyric in the song. Well done
I also received two “(Stuff) OChem Students Say” entries:
One of the most frustrating units for me to teach in my sophomore organic chemistry class is the coupling/j-value concept in the NMR chapter. Going through the tree diagrams, we can get to a place where we understand that 3 neighboring protons cause a quartet, but I’m not convinced they really understand why. It gets worse when we get to doublet of doublets. This really goes way over their head. So I delve deeper into the theory so it will become more clear, but the concept only becomes more muddy in their mind. So I go even deeper, really getting into the physics (a class many of them haven’t taken yet), and their eyes start to glaze over and I start to lose the class.
By the end of the unit, we all resign and the students end up ‘memorizing cases’ with little to no understanding of why. I hate ‘memorizing cases.’
So last week I had an epiphany on the drive to work. I was thinking about how to make the concept more clear. Given a proton with a chemical shift, the random up or down spin state of the neighboring proton influences the chemical shift of the observed proton and offsets the chemical shift by an equal value in the positive and negative direction. Total values… a binary up/down spin state… offset by equal amount. Coins!
Given a quarter with a ‘chemical shift’ value of $0.25, a flipped penny will either land heads up or tails (heads down). Say a heads up penny adds $0.01 to the total value, and a heads down penny...
The most popular paper as measured by unique clicks at ChemFeeds for May was work using rotoxanes as metal-organic frameworks by the Stephen J. Loeb group. Assuming you’re not in the UC system and you have access to Nature Chemistry you can view it here, “Metal–organic frameworks with dynamic interlocked components” by V. Nicholas Vukotic et al.
April’s winner of hottest abstract as measured from clicks at Chem Feeds will come as no surprise to those who have their pulse on the current chemical literature; the paper was heavily covered by the science press. The work was inspired from the Harry Potter novel “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets“. You can read Wei Shen and Miaosi Li‘s work here: Paper-Based Blood Typing Device That Reports Patient’s Blood Type “in Writing”.
Enjoy the reading.
Earlier in the week Chemistry Blog crossed the 1 million visitor mark. I just want to say thank you to all the readers and fellow writers that have helped to make this happen. It has been a good 6 years.
Like January 2012, the most accessed paper for March 2012 on ChemFeeds was a small feature in Angewandte highlighting winners receiving recognition for their work, in this case the ACS 2012 National award. The winners in no particular order were David O’Hagan, Arnold L. Rheingold, Philip P. Power, Jonathan A. Ellman, Christopher A. Reed, Stephen Hanessian, Mitsuo Kira, Enrique Iglesia (not to be confused with the famous singer), and Raymond E. Schaak.
However, the honor of being the most highly accessed original science article was shared by two different JACS papers:
From Sarah Reisman’s Group: Enantioselective Synthesis of Tryptophan Derivatives by a Tandem Friedel–Crafts Conjugate Addition/Asymmetric Protonation Reaction
From Aiwen Lei’s Group: Silver-Mediated Oxidative C–H/C–H Functionalization: A Strategy To Construct Polysubstituted Furans
The paper with the most eye-catching graphical abstract goes to Young-Jae Oh and Ki-Hun Jeong for their Advanced Materials paper titled, “Glass Nanopillar Arrays with Nanogap-Rich Silver Nanoislands for Highly Intense Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering“.
I forget that ChemFeeds allows me a very unique window into the popularity of various chemistry articles across chemistry publishers (e.g., ACS, RSC, Nature). For February, the most popular article was an editorial penned by Roald Hoffmann critiquing the chemistry community’s response to the 2011 chemistry Nobel prize.
What, Another Nobel Prize in Chemistry to a Nonchemist?
For those that need to be reassured that it is okay for molecular biologists to receive chemistry Nobel prizes then I encourage you to read it.
On a side note, the most popular paper of January 2012 was “New Academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences” also in Angewandte. It is not a particular interesting article, but as 10% of ChemFeeds users are based in China it is not surprising.
Last spring, a few of my students made me an awesome parody video of Rebecca Black’s Friday, “It’s Lab Day.”
This semester, nearly half my class turned in lots of great parody videos. Not all of them wanted to be shared publicly, but here are most of the videos my class made me!
Sunglasses in Lab
Two notes about this one: the guy singing a) is part of our university’s a Capella group (no AutoTune here), and b) actually does wear tinted safety glasses in lab
Last Ochem Class
It’s true that our department is broke and can’t afford sep funnels, so we do extractions in measuring cups.
A nice sampling of three songs while daydreaming in class: one I don’t recognize, Billionaire, and Party Rock Anthem
OChem Rock Anthem
Keeping with the LMFAO theme.
Round Bottom Flask
Parody of Toby Keith’s Red Solo Cup. Nice shout out to James over at Master Organic Chemistry in this one.
Organic Chemistry Tips
Like Kramer’s Peterman Reality Tour, I never thought someone could recreate the experience of actually being in my class, but this is pretty close.
An OChem Christmas
The students turned these in at the end of fall semester, so several had Christmas themes. The first one has a pretty low volume, be warned, but awesome hair decorations. Followed by The 12 Days of OChem, and O’ Chemistry.
The goals of IYC2011 are to increase the public appreciation of chemistry in meeting world needs, to encourage interest in chemistry among young people, and to generate enthusiasm for the creative future of chemistry.
This quote from the chemistry2011.org About IYC page gives us chemists a charge: Embrace the concept that ‘Science is for Everyone’ and help make science in general (and chemistry in particular) more accessible to a wider audience.
This is an awesome charge. The message of the chemist can sometimes be misinterpreted or abused for a number of reasons. One one end of the spectrum, chemistry can be derided as witchcraft of magic by those without a general understanding of the basics of chemistry. On the other hand, chemistry can be proclaimed as an Absolute Truth for political purposes by those without a general understanding of the nuances of chemistry. In the middle are misinterpretations and misunderstandings of the vagueness and imprecision of our esteemed field.
So as IYC2011 draws to a rapid close, what are the 3 things you would hope the general public would see as the take-home message about chemistry? Here’s my 3 Things list:
“Chemical” is not a pejorative.
Chemicals are everywhere. In everything. At all times. There is no such thing as “chemical free.”
For the most part, chemists are not vindictive, manipulative, political, or nefarious. They’re trying to make other people’s lives...
UPDATE: New Catalytic Cycle video below!
James (of Master Organic Chemistry and the Reagents App/Guide fame) and I had some off-line conversations about curved arrows in ChemDraw. I don’t particularly like the suite of arrows ChemDraw gives us in the Arrow Tools menu. Yeah, they give you 4 arc angles, but you have to guess if you need the clockwise or counterclockwise arrow… and I just don’t like them. They look, i dunno, amateur or less professional or something. Nothing against people who use the standard arrows, I just don’t like them.
So over the years I’ve become quite adept at using the Edit Curve function in ChemDraw. It allows me to make my arrows look however I want them to. I have a couple of arrow shapes I particularly enjoy, and I use them a lot.
James (@jamesashchem) gave me a hat tip on Twitter for showing him the new arrows, at which point Mark Peczuh (@mwpeczuh) requested a public YouTube video.
So I made one. Here it is. If you already know how to use the Edit Curve function then cool. If not, hope it helps
Thanks to everyone who left kind comments about the curved arrow video. Stephen Davey (@stephengdavey) asked if the Edit Curve function could make curly q arrows. I’d never tried to make one like that before, so I took a crack at it. Turns out, this arrow doesn’t work so well with the Edit Curve function (unless some actual graphic designer knows more about making paths than I...