Nature Chemistry | The Sceptical Chymist

Materials Girl: An introduction

[Editor’s note: another guest blogger has joined our team…]

Posted on behalf of Materials Girl:

Writing here makes me feel like a freshman all over again. Only, this time, I’m rather giddy with excitement. (My actual first-year experience involved enjoying the change in scenery, staying cool, and “just chillin” – despite getting lost at 7 am in the maze of dusky hallways that constitute the math building, all on my first day of class). However, I digress – a frequent occurrence in my case. The downfall of an active mind is a proclivity for becoming distracted, notably with what I’m not actually supposed to be doing… At the moment, the word “homework” seems to be flashing in the back of my mind in blinding red font.

So, why am I writing on a chemistry-related blog? The title should explain enough… References to Madonna notwithstanding, “Materials Girl” describes who I am in the academic community: a 3rd-year undergraduate female majoring in chemistry/materials science, with an organic concentration.* Any ramblings here will chronicle my random thoughts in relation to chemistry, “however tenuous”, in my passage through all things chemistry, the education system, and beyond.

Where does the journey begin? More precisely, which parts matter? In high school/community college, I learned to play with Bunsen burners, mix pretty-colored chemical solutions, and overall skate my way through chem with A’s. “Real university” o-chem began the wakeup call (and the descent of my precious GPA). However, I stayed afloat and gradually learned to balance a love/hate relationship with the subject I’d begun studying by default: chemistry! Second year, fall quarter, I unsuspectingly enrolled in an adjunct seminar to my inorganic chemistry course.* From that, I become entranced in “It’s a Materials World”, and discovered that learning about the practical application of materials intrigued me more than other branches of chemistry. On the basis of a particularly good lecture, I impulsively petitioned to shift majors from pure chemistry to chemistry/materials science.

I have yet to regret that choice (notably since I no longer am required to take ANY biochem – some of the most dreaded courses ever taken by those outside the major*)… Granted, I haven’t reached the heaviest classes of my new major yet, but any difficulties in material should be overruled by the joy of learning, right? We shall see how everything fares, especially with the upcoming fall quarter.*

So many thoughts, so little space and time! It’s long past midnight and my summer classes’ homework calls.* Before stopping myself from babbling off again, I would like to thank the editors of the Sceptical Chymist for offering me what my older brother calls “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, especially for a mere undergrad.” (As if he isn’t “merely” an undergraduate at Caltech). It is with greatest anticipation and honor that I make my first post.

*more on that in a later post


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    Uncle Al said:

    William A. Little, Phys. Rev. 134 A1416-A1424 (1964). Ambient temp exciton superconductors, [=C(Ar)-(Ar)C=]n. Synthons from, Curr. Org. Syn. 2(2) 231 2005

    AR-CHO → AR(O=O)(C=O)-AR -Tebbe→ AR-(C=CH2)(C=CH2)-AR -Shrock or GrubbsADMET; polyacetylene product with H2C=CH2 extrusion. Hydrogen and multiple bonds ommitted from stereograms,

    Fast cheap model. Add para-alkane or -polyoxyethylene for solubility.

    Modestly interesting.

    That ought to work. Hole-dope with iodine. Add a magnet for the Meissner effect.

    Or do a McMurray coupling on the ARil. That won’t get you low dispersivity living polymer to terminate with sulfur species for organized gold electrode attachment.

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    Ψ*Ψ said:

    Always nice to see another materials chemist writing. But why is Sceptical Chymist taking on an undergrad?

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    Stu said:

    Why not an undergraduate? Someone to talk about chemistry (and materials) from the other end of the tunnel… and describe the highs and lows of college chemistry life and the prospect of what to do afterwards after majoring in chemistry. You don’t just want to hear what us editors have to say do you?

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    Materials Girl said:

    Thanks, Stu.

    I wouldn’t presume myself to be especially competent, especially at the level of a “real” Nature contributor. However, seeing one undergraduate’s journey from ignorance to expertise ideally should be of interest… Maybe?