Don’t put it in your mouth

I’m not going to lie to you: Helix is a bad show. 

Scientists mixing up DNA, RNA and proteins without any elementary knowledge of the subject, bright field microscope used for imaging nanometric viruses, cowboy pipetting and so on. I mean, it’s quite funny if you watch it with the proper spirit. I would recommend it to anybody with an elementary biology knowledge, you will have great time watching it.

Anyway, for some series I have a kind of Stockholm syndrome so I watched it till the end, like I did with Lost, how I met your mother and (unfortunately) I’m still watching the walking dead.

Here just a couple of frame shots (I could have written a book on how many things were wrong in the series):

Gloves1

I think the capture should be something like:
Girl: I have a terrible headache
Boss: It’s maybe because you are spreading your glove all over your face?  

Now, the boss is in front of her, do you think he is going to say something about using her glove like a napkin? Not at all, not at all my friends. Here is what he did:

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Caption:
Boss: don’t touch your face with your gloves, it’s not enough. Here, let me spread my glove on your face as well. Here you go, you welcome.

Just in the same episode:

Nitrogen

The blue thing you see in the spraying gun is not paint, no, is not even some fancy coating. It’s a cryogenic liquid….. Most probably nitrogen… 

 

Please watch it, there are so many pearls in it that it’s difficult for me writing them all (one of the character even say “I’m your father”)

And remember to use the gloves properly:

how to put them:

 

and once you have them remember to not touch your face, and don’t put it in your mouth:

 

no idea…

More than two weeks without any new blogpost….. Sorry but I’m kind of busy (and in holiday this week).

so….. May the DART Vader be with you, and see you soon with more amazing adventures from a chemistry lab….

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Google Safety Glasses

A couple of literature from “anonymous” sources….

The first scientific paper using google glasses (or at least chemistry related paper) is out. And what’s better than sponsoring it with this kind of amazing TOC????

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Few questions arise from this picture. Are the google glasses safe for the lab? I know quite some safety sheriffs that will be not so happy to see people working around just with the google glass. Then, why on earth the labcoat is striped???? 
The paper is here, enjoy.

Second paper of the day…. Apparently T-BAG is a well known term in the surface chemistry world…… if you don’t know the other meaning, DO NOT walk around the department asking explanation to random people…. DO NOT!!!

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paper here.

 

Protruding Nanoballs Vs Recessional Nanosuckers

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Using “Protruding Nanoballs” and “Recessional Nanosuckers” in the same title is not something easily achievable. Luckily someone managed to do it: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nl4048042 

In the paper some more amazing NanoThings:

“shrunken nanoball architectures”

“…produced a great amount of suction when applied to other surfaces, similar to the effect of suckers on an octopus’ tentacles”

“The overall structure changed from a nanosphere to a “nanosnowman”-like structure with a smaller ball affixed atop the larger one.”

“The nanocup structure had a relatively small opening mouth on top of a spherical cavity”

“No matter the length of immersion in acetonitrile or the size of the nanoballs, those nanoballs displayed homogeneity in size and the same period of sequence; that is, smaller nanoballs had larger spaces between them.”

“…the nanosucker design presented in this article is the only octopus- inspired design”

 

P.S. The research described in the paper is extremely interesting, and achieving such strong adhesion with dry film is quite impressive. Check the videos in the supplementary information for the stress test (and a brutal vertical video).

Best email answer? PhD writing craziness!

Hoxford fan film

The facts narrated in this blogpost are based on a true story:

One of your labmate is writing his phd thesis in a building far far far away from your lab (ok, not that far away, but still…). You hear the alarm going on in that building multiple times in the same day.  At this point you write an email to your friend, just for asking if everything is ok there. Something like:

“hey I heard the alarm going on there, is it everything fine?” 

Then few minutes later you got this email:

It’s such a mess!

Someone started a fire in a fumehood, and then it started to spread around.
The guy went on fire and started to run around. Then the alarm rang, but someone locked the doors, so not everybody could escape!
Unfortunately, the guy who was burning down was synthesizing a mutagenic compound, and since it was spilled all over him, he started getting crazy and attacked other people, biting them and somehow contaminating them. I could not escape, so I took refuge in my office by locking myself in. Then suddenly, after 10-15 min Seb
(another guy working in the same building n.d.r) came knocking to my door, so I let him in, he told me that the situation is getting worse and worse, people on fire are contaminating everybody, but fortunately he came with some chemicals so that we can defend ourselves against those monsters.

I’m sorry but I don’t have much time to talk, they are now trying to enter the office, we are thinking about jumping from the window, it’s a bit high, but I’d rahter break a leg than get contaminated!

They are now destroying the door,

They are coming…

 

True story…. I mean the email part. The guy who wrote it was Mathieu (the 50% brain of the Super Mario Bros Column Chromatography). Writing a phd thesis can drive you crazy ;)

P.S. Kudos to whoever knows the amazing comic book artist that did the drawing in the frontispiece. 

Finally your non-gmo salt

Salt Himalayan Pink Gourmet FDA No Chemicals Non-gmo Organic Halall Kosher Fine Grind (.5mm)

 

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This non-gmo salt have been recently rediscovered (read Twitter). I love sarcasm so, my favorite part of the whole story are the comments.
Please enjoy the fine selection of (hopefully) sarcastic comments: 

 

“I was in the market for an organic salt such as sodium tosylate or pyridinium chloride in order to complete my evil science experiments to disprove the Gaia hypothesis. When I saw this product, I nearly jumped for joy! I thought it was a bit weird that the sellers don’t specify which organic salt they’re selling, but I figured it was a sort of grab-bag or mystery box-type deal. When my product arrived, the first thing I did was to get an IR spectrum to see which organic salt I had received. My smile quickly turned upside down as I saw that there was not a single peak in my spectrum! After several more failed IR’s I performed a crude analysis with my tongue which confirmed that this product is actually sodium chloride, AN INORGANIC SALT! And these sellers have the gall to label their product “organic”? This is a clear case of false advertising. WOULD NOT BUY AGAIN.

 

“this just tastes so much better than the stuff made by the evil scientists who have managed to make salt into something living only to kill and torture it, then genetically modify the DNA they put into it.I heard that in some salts they even used STEM cell DNA from aborted fetuses, then modified that so that it only feels pain and excretes chemicals such as mercury and the stuff they put in chemtrails – you know, the stuff they use to control you into buying the evil GM stuff that will kill you slowly and painfully or whatever the hell chemtrails are meant to do to you.I’m sure that buying this pink salt will ward off spirits and those lizard people that David Icke warned us about (lizards hate salt but not the salt that the evil scientists make – they also genetically modify it to be safe to lizard people so when they do take over the planet we will have no defenses) I for one will be buying this in bulk and keeping it in my bunker so that when the end of the world does come I will be well prepared!”

 

“For too long, godless agronomists have harvested their Haram, Non-Kosher salt from a bland albino monoculture, pumped full of artificial sodium hormones and spliced with chloride transgenes. But now there’s No-Chemicals Non-GMO Organic Halal Kosher Gourmet Himalayan Pink Salt! It’s the perfect garnish for my Margarita made with All-Natural Unpasteurized Non-Homogenized Andean Tequila and Sustainably-Raised Free-Range Jhatka Aleutian Lime Juice.”

 

“I was super-enthusiastic to finally discover a salt that has not been genetically modified by Monsatan. It’s seems that Monsatan is everywhere, modifying genes in places I didn’t even know they existed! It is a relief to be able to cook my favorite Kosher meals without the worry of growing gigantic tumors all over my body.”

 

“We need to get off our salt dependency people! It’s made with sodium chloride (NaCl) and, when mixed with dihydrogen monoxide (used in commercial farming) creates a substance that is now polluting the oceans! Every dead ocean creature ever found has had traces of these two dangerous compounds.
I recommend only eating sticks you find on the ground.”


“I was really excited to finally find salt without chemicals, but when I took it to my lab and ran it through the AAS, I was dismayed to find it contained sodium, chlorine, and many other scary elements. Chlorine was used to kill many people during WWI. I certainly don’t want it in my food! If you want no chemical salt, look elsewhere!”


“It is pinker than the average salt. Pink is pretty. Pretty is good.
You may be able to source other salts which are equally kosher, halal and devoid of genetic manipulation, and equally full of sodium and chlorine. But do they have a delightful hint of pink? No? Well, this is clearly a prettier and hence superior product.”


“I used to work in the Himalayan Salt Mine recruiting center. Basically there was a squadron of us that yearly would demand the first born children from the locals and sent them to work in the mines. The “pink” color is the blood stains from those that resisted us. So, no GMO’s, just the blood of the rebels that resisted us! Viva La Himalayan Pink Salt!”


“I only buy single-sourced, free-range salt. This salt reeks of cruelty – it has probably never seen life outside the cramped salt coops.”


“As a Nepali citizen, I sincerely apologize for the confusion I have created. What’s being sold is not salt but frozen urine from my last hike to the Mt. Everest basecamp. So sorry.
P.S. I can ship you more ‘salt’ if you agree to pay via paypal. K thx bye.”


“I really love this. From eating it, to filling my salt box. It’s sexy and you know it. SAY TO TO GMO!”


Naturally if you still want to buy it, here it is: http://www.amazon.com/Salt-Himalayan-Chemicals-Non-gmo-Organic/dp/B007V8A34M/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
or you can join the Facebook group and start fighting this damn GMO-SALT!!!!  
Even better is probably the carbon-free sugar….. 

#SixWordPaperTitle

Twitter bird dead

Another funny day with twitter. One rule: six words for the title of your paper….
Here my top something, in no particular order: 

in-FXXXKing credible!!!!

Another day, another paper…. 

Finally papers are getting closer to the real lab life, and sooner or later I’ll be free to publish all the cursing I’m generally doing in the lab.

Fucking

The paper is “Conventional transmission electron microscopy” http://www.molbiolcell.org/content/25/3/319.abstract

If you read the paper (it can be quite interesting if you like the TEM) you will find also some other pearls like:

“In any event, embedding and curing in any resin should yield a hard “block” with the sample in it: congratulations, you’ve created a fossil.”

Are lab instruments male or female?

Disclaimer: 

If you are reading this as first post of the blog you should know something: nothing is serious on this blog. No, not even this post. This is just for fun and mainly based of maybe-true-maybe-not stereotypes.

Versus

 

Some topics connect all the labs in the world: the hate for alumina columns, the crappy university food, the mysterious ghost that steal clean NMR tubes, and naturally “are instruments male or female?”

 

It may be sounds a trivial question, but it is definitely not. After spending so much time working on a single instrument you start talking with him/her. Having a proper discussion with your instrument can make the difference between a successful or unsuccessful experiment. You need to talk with the instrument, understand him/her, hug the instrument, caress and comfort him/her. “There there, don’t worry, here the new solvent my dear” 

 

So, are the instruments in your lab male or female?

 

NMR

Male: He’s usually huge, not only the physical part, but his ego is expanding well behind his metallic shield. Usually traffic cones or yellow tape are used for outline his impressive ego.

He’s mono-thematic, ask him to do a 1H or a 13C and there will be no problem, ask to go for a 31P or a 15N and then he needs to change his mind, reflect a little bit and maybe, and only maybe, he will do it.

Female: She is still huge, but shiny and nice. Can destroy your credit cards in matter of seconds. Sometimes needs a lot of tuning foreplay before starting the measurement. It’s so hot you need liquid nitrogen to cool her down. 

 

AFM:

Male: He has a tip. Repetitive movement of the tip. I’m not going to add anything else here.

Female: She is oversensitive. No matters what, sooner or later she will go crazy for the minimum movement or sound you will do in the room. It’s like having a discussion with your lovely half, you will always end up saying something wrong. On the other hand, when she is in good mood she will give you beautiful pictures.

 

ITC

Male: He is repetitive, injecting the same stuff time after time after time after time…. Annoying.

Female: Her thermal sensitivity is impressive “It’s hot in here, no, now is going to be back to normal, now I’m ok, oh no, now is hot again…. Wait, now is going better….” And so on… Forever.

 

UV-Vis / Fluorescence:

Male: Usually his software is extremely old. Bad memory: “did I record the blank? I don’t remember, do you?” 

Female: The software is far far away to be linear. Millions of sub menu, boxes to check or uncheck depending mainly by her mood.

 

HPLC/UPLC:

Male: He can resist quite a lot of over pressure. Noisy, that kind of repetitive noise that can drive you crazy in few hours. Just stop talking. Just stop. Please.

Female: She is moody as well. Sometimes perfect separation other time a single huge peak. If too much pressure is applied she will start crying, spraying solvents everywhere. Requires daily care.

 

Balance:

Male: Dude, I can measure from 1mg to 150g. Something outside that range it is not my damn business.

Female: Make up your mind once for all: “it’s 1.56g…. no 1.55g…. no, no, wait… 1.54g… yes, i’m sure about it…. 1.57g, this is the correct one, trust me….. 1.55g”. Make up you mind!!!

 

Ultrasonic bath:

Male: Sensitivity? Not his best point. Throw something at him and he will destroy it.

Female: That noise that pass trough your skull directly to your brain. 

 

That super old instrument that is still working:

Male: He is way older than you, sometimes you just want to drink a whiskey with him sharing good old stories from the lab.

Female: She is the grandmother you never had, you cover her with a warm blanket during the cold winter. 



So, are your instruments male or female? Let’s check it out #MFInstruments 


Magic Acid?

Seriously Aldrich? Magic? Seriously?

 

Magic

 

from thefreedictionary.com:

Magic:
adj.
1. Of, relating to, or invoking the supernatural: “stubborn unlaid ghost/That breaks his magic chains at curfew time” (John Milton).
2. Possessing distinctive qualities that produce unaccountable or baffling effects.

Why not “the mysterious Grubbs catalyst”, “the black art of C18” or “the superstitious pH indicator” ?

Holidays

Remember to clean your fumehood before going in holiday……

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And (as you can see in the second picture) remember to leave a reaction for the new year, a token for the Gods of Chemistry.

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Happy holidays to all of you.

My top something papers of 2013

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What are the top ten papers that you read this year? @JessTheChemist on her blog started this nice topic, followed by @KarlDcollins here and now I guess it’s my turn.

Before going on, maybe it’s nice also to check the top 100 papers according to altmetrics of 2013 (so, the most discussed on the web).

I changed field in July so most of the time I was reading the last 20 years of relevant literature that I was missing. Moreover I like to read quite a lot of different papers, If you think I’m mono thematic then probably you will be disappointed by this list.

and let’s go (as always not in any particular order):

1- Ultrastable silver nanoparticles. Pretty impressive paper on silver nanoparticles (or maybe better, clusters). Amazing monodispersity, fixed number of silver atoms and capping molecules. The TOC with 140g of dried silver nanoparticles is a joy for the eyes. Maybe I have some remarks on the word “Ultrastable”. How can something be more stable that stable? Are they better than superstable nanoparticles? What’s next? Fworld-Stable nanoparticles? Maybe it’s only my english…  Bad point is that so far we didn’t managed to repeat the synthesis, but who is working on the field know how difficult is sometime repeating the formation of nanoparticles….

2- Tactile perception limit. If you think that your finger can detect only surfaces with millimeter patterns, well, think it again. This paper shows that your finger can detect the differences in surfaces with micron size features. Please avoid any sexual jokes about fingers and micron-sized things. 

3- Devices and 3D printers. Using your cellphone as microscope for single nanoparticle detection, single molecules counting or albumine test in urine. How cool is that? I would say as cool as printing and modifying new materials or your own microfluidic reactors. This review on nano materials for breath test is also a nice reading.

4- Is it difficult to grow long carbon nanotubes? Fei Wei doesn’t think so as his team managed to grow half meter carbon nanotubes. And what about controlling the movement and the assembly of nano-objects? Edo Waks and coworkers proved that it is doable using flow control.

5- Passing information from DNA to another set of molecules without even using an enzyme? Doable.

6- And more or less on the same topic, how to synthesize a specific sequence of aminoacids without using an enzyme? Using the “robosome” of course. 

7- Editorials, perspectives, comments and so on: The “All you can tweet” editorial on Nature Chemistry is pure gold. Can natural products and material chemists talk to each other, I mean without weapons? A very nice discussion on the topic in a JACS perspective. Otto Wolfbeis in an Angewandte editorial asks where are all the sensors, labels and probes that we are synthesizing in the lab everyday. Why they are not on the market? That’s a very good question. George Whitesides also thinks about market in his “Cool, or simple and cheap? Why not both?” and I share his point of view on that. Little bit more controverse is his “Is the focus on “molecules” obsolete? but also in this case some (most) of his points are reasonable. 

8- Random stuff. Electronic Visualization in Chemistry: From Alchemy to Art, very cool paper on the evolution of graphics in chemistry. If you are into the data mining business you may want to read how to predict future events mining the web.

9- Last but not the least a PNAS paper titled “Penis size interacts with body shape and height to influence male attractiveness”. Right from the paper this cit: ”Before clothing, the nonretractable human penis would have been conspicuous to potential mates. This observation has generated suggestions that human penis size partly evolved because of female choice.” That’s science! 

 

So what are your favorite papers of 2013? discuss it on twitter using #chemclub2013

Column Hell

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Although I usually have fun with column chromatography (it was also the topic of my first post one year ago) and TLCs, sometime sith happens (no, it’s not a typo).

You know, that spot that is not moving at all even in 8:2 DCM/MeOH with 1% of TEA. The feeling of “this is not going to end well”.

That shiver on your spine thinking about alumina column, or even worst: the infamous C18.

Today is one of those days (previous one here).

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Scientists from 80s (80s movies may explain something)

Can some movies reflect our attitude in the lab? Let’s see….

 

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The gremlins:
Never, and that’s very important, never start a new experiment (or purification) after midnight. You are tired and the risk of crashing your precious product on the floor is quite high. For organic chemists: never get your solvents wet.
Pro: Sometimes your product is so cute you want to cuddle the flask.

 

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Rocky:
It doesn’t matter if the the competitors have more instruments, a better lab or more people working on your same project. You can still win. Never give up.
Pro: You are american and publish on an american journal. 

 

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Goonies:
You are not alone. Collaboration and group working is the key to find the One-Eyed Willie’s treasure or to finish a project. Help your labmates.
Pro: Having asthma in a chemistry lab. 

 

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Weird science:
It doesn’t matter how crazy it may sound, but you can synthesize it. The pure power of the bottom-up approach.
Pro: Using underwear on your head as protection.

 

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Labyrinth:
The road for your PhD may looks long and overcomplicated, a lot of different possibilities, non-working projects and trolls. You will survive.
Pro: Listening David Bowie in the lab.

 

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Risky business:
When the boss is out for holidays or conferences it’s the prefect time for doing that crazy experiment you had in mind since long time. 
Pro: Sliding in the lab while playing “old time rock ann roll”.

 

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Adventures in babysitting:
Sooner or later during the lab supervision of undergraduates everything will go wrong. And I mean everything, non-working pumps, clogged syringes, shatter glass flying everywhere. 
Pro: getting a flat tire on your bike while going to the lab.

 

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Karate Kid:
The glass wound on your hand, the KOH burn on your finger or your tired legs will not stop you to finish the purification of your compound. No one can push you down.
Pro: Catching the stirring rod in your flask with chopsticks.

 

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Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome:
Because everyone of us worked, at least once, during the weekend in an (almost) empty university. You know what I’m talking about.

 

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The NeverEnding story:
Even during the longest group meeting that you have ever attended your mind is still free to wander around on a white dog/dragon. 
Pro: Screaming “Atreyuuuuuuuuuu” at the end of the group meeting

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Big:
I wish I were tenure track. 

Videogames and science: “The Last of Us”

Since long time I wanted to do a post (or a series of posts) on videogames and science (the university journal talking about the project here.pdf). Recently I finished “The Last of Us” and I guess it’s perfect time for starting this kind of posts. (Note: if you think that videogames are only for kids, well, maybe you want to read this paper http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/mp2013120a.html)

First of all “The Last of Us” is an amazing game, if you own a PS3 you should definitely play it. The developers (Naughty Dog) are the same guys that brought to you Crash Bandicoot and Uncharted. I love them and their attention to details they put in the games. 

The Last of Us is a clear example of game with those small details that make you smile while playing. Part of the adventure is based in the science department in the University of Eastern Colorado.

Aaaaand here we go:

A nice centrifuge:

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A nice microscope (in front of a window to make you blind):

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No one is cleaning glassware…. That looks like a real lab:

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To me it looks like a plasma cleaner… Any idea?

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Safety shower in the corner and not near the exit door? Nice…. Run for your life… in the corner, in the corner…..

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Something with two high pressure inlets? HPLC? Or some other purification stuff…. No idea

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A very nice TEM….. in a room with a lot of windows….

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Fumehoods:

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And well, since I’m in the Netherlands I also started enjoying biking. This was pretty nice: 

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The Monster Silica Ma(e)sh

Happy halloween from LabSolutely:

and, in case you missed them, don’t forget the other classic LabSolutely video:

Mario Bros Column Chromatography  and the making of

So God Made a Chemist and the picture comparison with the original spot

Extreme Sport: Chemistry

the #RealTimeChem trailer 

and here if you want to see some fun with the old working group in Groningen

Clear Message

The fluorescent microscope (and/or the fluorescent micro particles) are sending me a very clear message…. Very very clear….

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Fluorescence Rocks

Who needs to put in order the cuvettes? That’s simply boring…..

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