Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Note on "Pure" Chemistry

Over at the Curious Wavefunction, a recent post touched upon the idea of "pure" chemistry not being well-recognized as of late by the Nobel Committee. I of course find the entire notion to be rather silly - if one can't see the chemistry in those Prizes, then you have my condolences - but I thought it would be interesting to do the following exercise.

The American Chemical Society has a yearly "Award in Pure Chemistry" that is intended to recognize fundamental research in chemistry by a young researcher. Just to see what the ACS has considered "pure chemistry" since the 1990s, shall we?

Hmmm. This is a bit unusual. It seems that amongst the fairly obvious "traditional" chemistry researchers that are being recognized, there are a bunch of interdisciplinary scientists who are undermining the sanctity of chemistry! And some of them - dear Odin! - even have biological interests. Even if you go further back, I recognize a number of names who have become rather renowned for their interdisciplinary research.

Clearly, there is a mismatch between what the chemical community officially considers "pure" chemistry versus what the unofficial position tends to be, if one considers the chemical blogosphere to be representative. Hmmmm. Read more!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Random Interfacial Griping

To no one in particular.....

1.) We teach a lot of very handwavy material in introductory general chemistry at the university level here in the US. It does not mean that such material never gets a proper treatment. One thing to keep in mind is that such a course is generally intended to appeal to a wide audience, frequently to no one's complete satisfaction. (Especially the premeds.)

2.) Who the frak wrote this Wikipedia entry? I emphasize the following:

Nitrogen-15 is frequently used in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR), because unlike the more abundant splinless nitrogen-14, it has a fractional nuclear spin of one-half, which makes it observable by NMR.

Just so we are all clear - you can do 14N NMR. See, for example, the excellent webpage here for a bunch of references on exactly that. It's just that 14N is a quadrupolar nucleus (I = 1), which makes life a little more interesting, but is not everyone's cup of tea.

3.) Inverse problems can be challenging. Obviously.

And with that, I'm done. At least until next time! Read more!