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Pathogen resistance can track with drug penetration, not just with drug number or variety

Here's an interesting paper from a multi-institution group looking at a perpetual problem in antibacterial and antiviral drug therapy - the emergence of mutations and resistance. As one of the authors describes it on her blog, the project...Show More Summary

Carl Djerassi (1923-2015): Chemist, writer, polymath, cultural icon

Image: New York Times Very few scientists of the 20th century have had as much of both a scientific as well as a cultural impact on the world as Carl Djerassi. It is a measure of how many things Djerassi excelled at that even his amazing purely scientific career seems like a distant horizon. Show More Summary

Precision medicine is not precision engineering

From the NYT, a plea for not getting carried away with the vision of 'moonshot medicine' as precision engineering. The op-ed is written by Michael Joyner, a doctor at the Mayo Clinic and takes issue with Obama's precision medicine initiative which he apparently underlined in his state of the union address earlier this month. Show More Summary

Boundary value conditions, domain applicability and "American Sniper"

Actor Bradley Cooper in "American Sniper" General relativity is a generalization of Newtonian mechanics which applies to large objects moving at high speeds that curve spacetime. Similarity, quantum mechanics is a generalization of classical mechanics which applies to very small objects like electrons and photons. Show More Summary

23 Million Times Slower than Molasses

I have the pleasure of teaching general chemistry II for the first time ever this semester. It is fun to go back and revisit concepts that I have not spent time with since taking general chemistry ~13 years ago. Our first few classes will focus on intermolecular forces (dipole-dipole, London Dispersion, etc.) and some of … Continue reading »

Surprises in physics: From black bodies to the accelerating universe

Max Planck's revolutionary 1900 discovery that energy in the subatomic world exists as discrete packets marked the beginning of a century of spectacular surprises in physics Surprises rank high on the list of things that make science a source of everlasting delight. Show More Summary

"Clueless machines being ceded authority far beyond their competence" which is well-known for asking big-picture questions and having leading thinkers offer their answers to the questions has a relevant one this year: "What do you think about machines that think?" As usual there are a lot of very interesting responses from a variety of writers, scientists, philosophers and members of the literati. Show More Summary

New manufacturer of NMR instruments to enter the market

With the exit of Agilent from the NMR instrument market there’s a gap that is in desperate need of filling. Now it looks like a rather unusual group is considering plugging the hole. The company, usual associated with construction but also happens to be the largest manufacture of tyres in the world, is conducting a … Continue reading »

The many tragedies of Edward Teller

This is a revised version of a post written a few years ago on physicist Edward Teller's birthday. Edward Teller was born on this day 107 years ago. Teller is best known to the general public for two things: his reputation as the “father of the hydrogen bomb” and as a key villain in the story of the downfall of Robert Oppenheimer. Show More Summary

Is this the dawn of a golden age of private science funding?

Paul Allen is just one example of billionaires who are productively funding cutting-edge and important science (Image: Forbes) Last year, the BICEP2 experiment dropped a bombshell in the physics world by announcing potential evidence for gravitational waves from inflation as well as support for the quantization of gravity. Show More Summary

A good year for science movies

Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne's remarkable performances make "Theory of Everything" soar Movies about scientists get made quite rarely, so by those standards 2014 was definitely a bonanza year for such films. First there was the excellent "Particle Fever" which is now available on Netflix. Show More Summary

Book Review: Elizabeth Kolbert's "The Sixth Extinction"

Elizabeth Kolbert combines the sharp observational powers of a field biologist with the literary skill of a seasoned and thoughtful writer. In her previous book “Notes from a Field Catastrophe”, she travelled to far-flung parts of the globe to dig up stories on the deleterious effects of climate change. Show More Summary

Naomi Oreskes and false positives in climate change: Do we know enough?

Historian of science Naomi Oreskes who has long since been a campaigner against climate change and science denialists (her book "Merchants of Doubt" is a touchstone in this regard) has a New York Times Op-Ed titled "Playing Dumb on Climate...Show More Summary

In the matter of Walter Lewin, MIT goes medieval

By now most people must have heard the unpleasant news that Walter Lewin, the beloved and world-renowned physics teacher at MIT whose legendary video lectures drew comparison with the Feynman Lectures on Physics has been barred fromShow More Summary

The demise of SciAmBlogs

So I hear that SciAmBlogs is undergoing a radical overhaul and shedding no less than half of its bloggers, many of whom have been with the network since its inception. This includes many whose thought-provoking writings I respect - even though I don't always agree with them - like Janet Stemwedel and Eric Michael Johnson. Show More Summary

Support Bangladesh Arsenic Education Project on IndieGoGo

Dear friends of Chemists Without Borders,I am pleased to announce the kickoff of our campaign on IndieGoGo aimed at educating high school students in Bangladesh on the dangers of drinking water contaminated with arsenic. Chemists Without...Show More Summary

Mussels make superglue?

Nature is so amazing. I heard about this topic on the radio last week and was curious to learn more about it. Even with all the technological advances we have made, humans still pale in comparison to what nature figured out a long time ago. Show More Summary

The name's bond - reversible covalent bond.

Fifteen years ago most people would have laughed at you if you told them kinase inhibitors would become such a big deal: the received wisdom at that point was that anything that competed with ATP for one kinase would just indiscriminately hit other kinases. Show More Summary

Pleasures of Process Development

Refluxed in 12 molar HCl Carefully watched for a frothing Painstakingly drained from the reactor To strip down and scrub off that gross thing My bosses, I tried please believe me I’m doing my best as you insist I’m ashamed of the material I burned through I’m ashamed of the deadlines I missed But if […]

Paul Schleyer: Among the last of the universalists

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Paul Schleyer, not exactly a household name among non-chemists but someone who was undoubtedly one of the most prolific and towering chemists of his time. Schleyer started out in synthetic physical organic chemistry and then moved to computational and theoretical chemistry. Show More Summary

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