Post Tagged with: "Nobel"

A guide for reporters on the 2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

(cross-posted with Chemjobber)

Somewhere in the good ol’ US of A, USA (DON’T HAVE TO CREDIT CHEMJOBBER):

3 chemistry professors, Richard Heck (formerly of the University of Delaware), Ei-ichi Negishi (Japanese descent, of Purdue University) and Akira Suzuki (Japanese descent, of Hokkaido University) were awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistryfor palladium-catalyzed cross couplings in organic synthesis” by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. These are techniques for bonding (or connecting) smaller carbon-based molecules together to make larger carbon-based molecules.

Creating carbon-carbon bonds can be difficult and can sometimes involve using dangerous, impractical or environmentally unfriendly reaction chemistry; the techniques pioneered by Suzuki, Heck, and Negishi make these reactions simple enough for novice chemists to perform and practical enough that they can be run on multi-ton scale. Since their introduction in the late 1970’s, palladium-catalyzed chemical reactions have touched every part of the field of chemistry, including life-saving drugs, plastics and organic LEDs. The modern pharmaceutical industry would not be able to produce many of their products without palladium-catalyzed reactions.

The prize has been long-awaited by many chemists. “It’s about damn time”, said Chemjobber, a very junior synthetic organic chemist. “I don’t know what it took to get those Swedes to finally get their thumb out.” It is believed that part of the reason is the rules of the Nobel Prize: there can be no more than 3 awardees at one time, and they all must be living. Many chemists contributed to the field of palladium-catalyzed reactions. Professors Sonogashira, Tsuji, and Kumada could have all been part of this award, and the chemistry Nobel committee is notoriously controversy-shy.

Professor Heck has retired and currently lives with his wife in the Philippines. Professor Negishi is still teaching and research at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Professor Suzuki is still teaching and researching at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan.

(CJ here: Man, this is harder than you would think.)

Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2009 Analyzed

Ada E. Yonath
Ada Yonath
Thomas A. Steitz
Thomas Steitz

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan
Venkatraman Ramakrishnan

As already announced biologists walked away with this year’s Nobel prize in chemistry once again, this time for work in determining the structure of Ribosomes. Read here for more and more information. We at Chemistry Blog like to quantitate and analyze like any good chemist. But how do we quantitate how badly chemists were denied? Easily, we have ChemFeeds.

ChemFeeds is my little graphical abstracts portal. It tracks 39 chemistry journals. It isn’t an all inclusive list of all chemistry journals, but it is a good representative cross-section: ChemComm, JACS, CrystEngComm, DaltonTrans, JOC, JNatProd, InorgChem, Macromolecules, OrgBiomolChem, OrgLett, Organometallics, JChemInfComSci, JOPCA, JOPCB, JOPCC, PhysChemChemPhys, Analyst, JAAS, ACS NANO, AdvFunctMater, AdvMater, ChemMater, JMaterChem, Langmuir, NanoLett, Small, Biochemistry, Biomacromolecules, ChemResToxicol, IntergrBiol, JCombChem, JMedChem, JProteomeRes, MolPharm, EnergyEnvironSci, GreenChem, JEnvironMonit, NewJChem, SoftMatter.

The database for ChemFeeds is a little shy of a year old. If we search the ChemFeeds database for the occurrence of ribosome we get 7 abstracts in the last year. If we search for GFP we get 2 hits (subtracting the Nobel lectures). What about if we search for other topics most chemists thought deserved a Nobel nod and make a table (chemists love tables).

Topic ChemFeeds Abstracts Google Hits Notes
ribosome 7 1,920,000 2009 Winner
GFP 2 2,850,000 2008 Winner
dye-sensitized solar +
dye sensitized solar
90 852,000 2009 Thomson Reuters Pick +
radical polymerization 64 480,000 LiqC
cross-coupling +
cross coupling +
148 328,000
(not including term Heck)
single molecule +
123 1,040,000
Kyle Finchsigmate

The analysis shows that although chemists do not concern themselves with GFP or ribosomes, they are still well represented in Google and on some level deserve recognition for their reach. Dye-sensitized solar cells are the new in thing in chemistry, but from an energy perspective they make up a very small percentage of what we as humanity derive our energy (i.e. oil, nuclear, hydrothermal), but it almost makes it past 1,000,000 in Google hits. Radical polymerization, an important reaction used everywhere, but perhaps too established to get a Nobel but then again CCD cameras got the nod. Cross coupling, the most popular subject amongst chemists and can only be ignored by the Nobel committee for so long. Single molecule studies obviously strongly represented in the current literature and is more far reaching in Google than cross-coupling reactions, so that field will be ripe for a Nobel.

As chemists we would like to see the Nobel chemistry prize go to a chemist. Our Nobel hopefuls may be a measurable magnitude more chemically interesting, as measured by ChemFeeds, but there is more work for them to do until these topics become world renowned (which seems to be the dominant prerequisite these days).

Update: You can finally MySQL query the ChemFeeds database yourself: Search ChemFeeds


P.S. I get 215,000 Google hits searching for my name exactly, Mitch Andre Garcia, but it doesn’t mean I’m winning a Nobel; although it probably does mean I should spend less time online.

By October 7, 2009 3 comments opinion, science news

Nobel Chemist Trades Grades for Sex

The video below is of the most awesome Nobel chemist ever. He tells his class to kiss his A**, is generally arrogant, trades grades for sex, and gets blackmailed by his own son.

Movie comes out later this year for wide release, title is Nobel Son.


By December 2, 2008 8 comments fun