November 8th, 2011


Argh, synthesis.

I'm trying to make sense of the synthesis route that I'll need to follow once I get into the lab. The two problems I'm having with it are (a) that it is written in a highly condensed "scientific" style whereby all the conditions, masses and concentrations are crammed into the paragraph in brackets and (b) that the person who wrote it is either dyslexic or a really bad typist (impossible to tell which). All I know is that "Cream percipitae was then fillitered off and washed with water affording Z16 as a cream percipitate." is not English.

I presume that what happened was that Microsoft Word put little wavy red lines under absolutely everything (since it will only recognise the simplest of chemical names), and so key words like "precipitate" and "filtered" slipped through with their "interesting" spellings. There even exists an Open Source chemistry spellchecker, but too many people don't know about it yet. I wish College would automatically install it on all machines that are likely to be used by chemists...

I am however pleased to note that the starting chemical for one of my syntheses is vanillin. I predict being RAVINGLY HUNGRY for the whole of that day ;)
what ho peasants!, boris

Why do good events always clash?

Like seriously: Monday 14th November, the evening:

Talk with Sarah Waters (famous lesbianic author). Friends' House, Euston Road, NW1 2BJ. 6-7.30pm. Free, but booking required.

The PhD Comic Movie at UCL.
Logan Hall, Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way. 7-10pm. £7 to non-UCL students.

The Gower Street Lecture Series, Apps Leading the way in Science: Marcus Chown presents 10 Bonkers things about the Solar System.
Darwin Lecture Theatre, UCL, Darwin Building, Malet Place, WC1E 7JG. 7:00PM. Tickets £8 / £5 students

Any ideas how I'm supposed to choose which one to go to? I'm torn equally between the PhD Comic film and the Sarah Waters talk...

Also, is anyone interested in seeing Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson blethering in a Boris-like way? This Thursday at 7, at the Institute of Education. Free tickets available by emailing with the subject 'Boris' or calling 020 7636 1577.

I like Boris. He is batshit insane. As long as you don't think that he actually does anything as Mayor of London...
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I need more self-confidence.

Of the reaction mechanisms I drew last night:
2 were completely right
1 was almost completely right (SN2 instead of SN1, something which I wouldn't have known because the textbook says that particular reagent, unusually, almost always goes via SN1 despite being primary)
1 would have been right if I'd trusted my instincts
and the last was bollocks only because I'd produced an extra C=C bond from nowhere and got myself confused. Without that, it would have made sense and I'd have been able to finish it.

Apparently I am not actually stupid at organic chemistry. I just need a lot more practice so that I trust myself in unfamiliar cases.