helen-louise (baratron) wrote,

  • Mood:

Work, and moaning about textbooks.

Still trying not to beat myself up. The problem of the last two days has been stupid biochemistry textbooks.

Yesterday I was suffering from a disagreement between Wikipedia and the textbook I was using. The textbook claimed that the reaction which converts pyruvate into acetyl-coenzyme A was catalysed by pyruvate decarboxylase. Wikipedia said it was actually catalysed by pyruvate dehydrogenase, and that these are two separate enzymes which should not be mistaken for each other despite their similar names and functions. Normally, one would generally believe a sourced textbook over Wikipedia, but the wiki was so insistent that I thought it was worth double-checking.

I found the 2012 edition of my textbook on Google Books, and that section was identical. I did, however, find a much more comprehensive textbook on Google Books which had more than 750 pages, which made it clear that it's pyruvate decarboxylase for the reaction that makes ethanal and pyruvate dehydrogenase for the one that makes acetyl-CoA, or in other words, my textbook is wrong and Wikipedia is right. That wasted... I don't know, 20 minutes of my time?

Then I was having trouble with FAD/FADH2 and NAD+/NADH redox reactions. Even my enormous Organic Chemistry book OF DOOM doesn't bother to write the mechanisms! They're just classed as a black box of "in here a miracle happens". I'm aware that there are different theories for how they work (1 x 2 electron transfer rather than 2 x 1 electron transfer), but I just wanted to be able to write a mechanism because I'm a chemist and I like to know where electrons go. (It's the only way I can learn structures). I ended up with something that looked entirely plausible until I saw what I thought was a hydride ion attacking a benzene ring - totally impossible since it would be a negatively charged ion attacking a region of high negative charge. I then proceeded to freak out and try various rearrangements of molecules and curly arrows for 2 hours, until I bothered to consult the enormous Organic Chemistry book OF DOOM and discovered that pyridine and benzene reactivities are actually really different. Duh.

Now I have to not beat myself up for forgetting something "basic" in organic chemistry, pun not intended. I'm doing fairly well at reminding myself that if you don't use information for 18+ years it drops out of your head and that doesn't mean you're stupid, just that you need to revise - but cheerleading from friends might help with this.

Mostly, I'm pissed off with the biochemistry textbook I have. It was the least awful one available in the library (i.e. it actually shows every chemical structure rather than glossing over them whenever possible), but it has an innate assumption that you started at the beginning and are working through it sequentially to the end. That might be appropriate with a small tutorial text of, say, 150 pages - but it doesn't seem appropriate for a massive course textbook of over 500 pages! I like to be able to delve into a textbook, find what I need, and get back to my work, NOT be forced to flick through previous or subsequent chapters because "You will see later that...". I would be so annoyed if I'd bought this book, rather than simply borrowing it from the library.

stellarwind has been awesome in helping me make sense of random biochemistry. Every home should have one.

Also, my sleep patterns have been as bizarre as usual, but I've simply been doing work when I'm awake, sod what time the clock says it is. This works right now, but might be a problem when I have to start going into College more regularly.
Tags: college, research

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