Archive by date | August 2006

European Chemistry Congress: Viszontlátásra

As the conference winds down, I think it was, all in all, a good thing. It will be interesting to see how it develops. Will it become a mega-meeting, like the ACS meetings, or will it find some sort of niche, disciplinary or otherwise?  Read more

European Chemistry Congress: Gold medal

A big conference just isn’t a big conference without a lot of handing out of medals. So here’s congrats to Jonathan Nitschke of the University of Geneva, for winning the European Young Chemist’s award. He got an IOU from the Italian Chemical Society for 1,800 €, and a nice gold medal. Lee Cronin promised me that if he didn’t win, he would get up and shout ’It’s rigged! It’s rigged!‘, but unfortunately, he got one of the silver medals, and so we didn’t get to see a temper tantrum in the tent.  Read more

European Chemistry Congress: Quite a jar

Analytical chemists won’t run out of work any time soon. The world is reassuringly full of unknowns. Perhaps less reassuring is the nature of some of these unknowns. Koni Grob at the Kantonales Laboratory in Zurich, which he calls ‘a nano FDA’, has been looking at the compounds that food packages shed into the food we eat. His most recent focus has been on the plastic gaskets found inside jar lids. He finds that when oil–like that in tomato sauce, for example-touches these gaskets, all sorts of known and unknown things leach out into the food.  Read more

2 + 2 = 5

In the August 31st issue of Nature, there’s a short ‘picture story’ I wrote about a recent Cell paper from Lee et al. Those authors found that in Trypanosoma brucei (the parasite that causes African trypanosomiasis) the fatty acid myristate is not made by type I or type II fatty acid synthases, but is instead made by a series of enzymes called elongases. These enzymes extend the fatty acid chain, adding two carbon atoms at a time to a fatty acid that is attached to coenzyme A. Though more work is needed to explore how these enzymes function in vivo, the authors believe it may be possible to develop new anti-parasitic drugs that target these elongases.  Read more

European Chemistry Congress: Bon bons of interesting chemistry

– Kosuke Yoshida of Tokai University in Shizuoka, Japan has found a marine microalga, with the handsome name Nannochloropsis oculata, that can be trained to chop the noxious chemical formaldehyde into relatively benign ethyl formate. Yoshida is interested in using the trained strain to mitigate formaldehyde used to control parasites that live on fish gills in aquaculture.  Read more

Su Doku goes periodic

Su Doku, the number game that is sweeping the world, has been adapted by the Royal Society of Chemistry into a puzzle where each square must have only one of nine elements listed at the bottom of the page. The play is exactly the same as the digit version, except that one contemplates the likes of lanthanum and cerium while one plays. Check it out at www.rsc.org/puzzle.  Read more

European Chemistry Congress: Chemical Darwinism

The big tent where we saw the folk dancers was packed this morning for Jean Marie Lehn’s plenary on self-organizing systems. I heard lots of ebullient murmuring on the way out, so I think it went well, though some of it may have been the celebrity-induced glow of those who have just heard a Nobel laureate speak.  Read more

European Chemistry Congress: I heart food chemistry

I heart food chemistry, and for more than one reason. First of all, it is easy to get into the science when you can immediately relate it to cheese or grapes or Parma ham or something nummy like that. And secondly, it demonstrates how seriously we take the pleasure of eating. Much of food chemistry is concerned with ensuring that when we decide to spend an evening eating bon bons and drinking champagne in the bath our chocolate is not adulterated with inferior cocoa butter fat equivalents and our champagne is actually from Champagne.  Read more

A bottle of red, a bottle of white

If you’re an oenophile and you’re looking for a job in the near future, you might want to read Corinne Marasco’s piece in today’s Chemical & Engineering News. As long as you have “strong analytical skills, a good understanding of organic chemistry, and an interest in wine,” there might be a job for you in the wine industry.  Read more