Archive by date | August 2006

European Chemistry Congress: Panacea in the water?

Today’s programme is chock full of environmental chemistry, including a few sessions on pharmaceuticals in the environment. In the last few decades chemistry has given us more and better drugs, and we have not been shy about taking them. One graph of pharmaceutical consumption in France from 1970 to the present was hair-raisingly steep. All those drugs that aren’t broken down by our bodies are, well, let’s be scientific here, excreted and enter the waste-treatment stream. Some end up in rivers and lakes.  Read more

European Chemistry Congress: more blogging from Budapest.

Mark Peplow, former Nature staffer, and current editor of the Royal Societyof Chemistry’s Chemistry World is here in Buda, and he’s recording his impressions on a brand new soft-launched blog, which is available here: http://prospect.rsc.org/blogs/cw.  Read more

European Chemistry Congress: the reception

Well, the reception was delightful. The food was excellent and the wine got good reviews. But before the eating and drinking came the speeches by chemistry worthies from across the continent. Generally, they were short and expressed pleasure in European chemistry coming together in this conference, and in the umbrella organization, EuCheMS. The MS on the end stands for “molecular science,” and is part of a decided emphasis on the molecule which seems to me to be a bit of an attempt to grab more territory for the field.  Read more

European Chemistry Congress: Jó napot kívánok

Jó napot kívánok from Budapest, where the European chemistry community has decided to get together in the first ever European Chemistry Congress. The scale of the thing is impressive for it being a first: 2,500 registrants from 65 countries and an abstracts book the size of a phone book (do they still make those?).  Read more

Come together

In the September issue of Nature Chemical Biology, John Silvius wrote about McGill University’s interdepartmental graduate program in chemical biology, which was established in 2002 and now has “roughly 30 graduate students, 10 postdoctoral fellows and 30 ”http://www.mcgill.ca/biochemistry/chemicalbiology/mentors/“>faculty mentors.”  … Read more

The right chemistry

On the train home last night I was directed to an article in The Guardian about the state of chemistry and physics education in the UK. (It’s a shame that the picture accompanying the online version is nowhere near as amusing as the one in the actual newspaper – it was your stereotypical wild-hair crazy-professor type, complete with labcoat, standing in front of a blackboard covered with chemical structures and even the mechanism of ester hydrolysis… base-catalysed just in case you were wondering).  Read more

Endosymbiotic by nature

You might remember endosymbiotic theory from your high school or college biology classes: it’s the idea that some organelles (for example, mitochondria and chloroplasts) were originally separate prokaryotic organisms that were engulfed by eukaryotic cells. Although it’s not clear how or why this occurred, this became a mutually beneficial relationship for both cells (i.e., a symbiotic relationship), resulting in the organelle-containing cells that appear in biology textbooks (and in our bodies…)  … Read more

Snakes on a Protein

I’ve just gotten home from the 20th Protein Society meeting in San Diego where, I have to say, I was completely overwhelmed by the quality of the talks I saw. I was also overwhelmed by the beautiful weather, and I frequently found myself asking why I (and everyone, in fact) don’t move to San Diego immediately. One thing that could be keeping people away is the creepy way that the hotel staff use your name when you’re wearing your nametag (‘Here’s your hot chocolate, Catherine!’ … Augh!).  Read more

Almost Famous

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, I took a look at Wikipedia’s ‘List of Chemists’: all the Nobel laureates have entries (for example, EJ Corey, Barry Sharpless, Ahmed Zewail, etc.) and though the top of the page boldly claims ‘This is a list of famous chemists: (alphabetcal [sic] order),’ this is by no means a fleshed out list of ‘important’ chemists: Margaret Thatcher is on the list, but George Whitesides didn’t make the cut for some reason. (I don’t mean any disrespect to the former Prime Minister, but I don’t think many scientists think ‘oh yeah, she’s a chemist’ when they hear her name…)  … Read more

Fame (I’m gonna live forever…)

A few nights ago I was talking with my wife about fame (i.e., what makes someone a ‘superstar’) – it’s pretty easy to understand why so many actors/actresses, musicians, and writers are household names (whether or not you like Ben Affleck or Shakira, many people know who they are…) The average person might not be able to name a living artist or dancer, though I bet a number of people would say “”http://www.christojeanneclaude.net/“>Christo and Jeanne-Claude” and “”http://www.baryshnikovdancefoundation.org/“>Baryshnikov”…  … Read more