Tagged: funny

The PhD Tao


That’s an amazing guest post from my labmate Rui Carvalho (@rkramska). The Tao of a PhD:

“The further one goes, the less one knows.” 
Lao Tzu – Tao Te Ching – 4th year PhD

“When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.” 

Lao Tzu – Tao Te Ching – Speaking of lab work

“Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.”
Lao Tzu – Tao Te Ching – During coffee break

“Take care with the end as you do with the beginning.” 

Lao Tzu – Tao Te Ching – While writing a paper

“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.” 

Lao Tzu – Tao Te Ching – When reology results do not make sense

“Our enemies are not demons, but human beings like ourselves” 

Lao Tzu – Tao Te Ching – Speaking of referees

“If you search everywhere, yet cannot find what you are seeking, it is because what you seek is already in your possession.”
Lao Tzu – Tao Te Ching – Before figuring out how to use the chemicals list

“Stop thinking and end your problems.”
 Lao Tzu – Tao Te Ching – On a Friday evening

“A beaker is only as useful as the emptiness inside it, very much so like my thesis.”
 Lao Tzu – Tao Te Ching – Talking about his thesis

Sigmund Fraud and the Case of the Supporting Information

Disclaimer: the following article is pure irony sarcasm (like the rest of the blog).

Due to the recent “ambiguous” discoveries in literature (strange NMR, even stranger TEM and well, I don’t know how to call this Supporting Information) I guess it’s the proper time to laugh about it:


1 – NMR

Why the hell are you still putting the NMR scan in the supplementary information? No one is going through it anyway, not the referees nor the editor(s). So, why bother in using paint to remove the nasty solvent peaks? Why that white tape of the impurities? Do just one thing: hand draw it, nothing better than a good old hand drawing, no paint required and almost impossible to detect as fraud.

IMG 22231H-NMR (400MHz) of compound X.

Yes, yes, I hear you. You are not an artist and you don’t want to lose time in hand drawing something. Then just put a random NMR picture in the supplementary information. Classy and scientifically correct:

400NMRNMR (400MHz), compound X inside.


2 – Elemental Analysis, Melting Point

Nothing here works better than a good old set of D&D dices. Only pay attention to the 20 faced dice, having a melting point of 6456 C may be suspicious. If you don’t like dices, you can alway go for the I Ching (in the uncommon possibility that you don’t know what is the I Ching, ask one of your Chinese colleague, or even better read “the man in the high castle”). God doesn’t play dice with the world, nobody asked him to fill in the supporting information.


3 – UV, Fluorescence and so on

As the NMR, the best option is to hand draw it. If lazy you can go for your favorite mountain (here for example the Vesusio). Don’t even think about labeling the axes, no one really care and referees hate it. For the IR just turn it upside down and add some random peaks.

VesuvioUV-Vis of a never-really-purified compound


4 – Imaging, AFM, TEM

That’s the easiest part. Just pick up the phone from your pocket and start making random pictures, they will come handy when writing the supporting information:

IMG 2225AFM of a functionalized surface. It’s clear that the roughness is more than acceptable (less than few nanometers)


IMG 2226AFM of nanoparticles on the same surface. The nanoparticles are spherical but they look distorted because of artifacts.


IMG 2227TEM of fibers (Uranyl Acetate staining)


IMG 2228Cryo-Tem



“if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” –
“If there is a fraud in the supplementary information and no one is around to read it, is it still a fraud?”

I guess that we all should thank Chembark for bringing those weird literature cases to the light.
Thank you!

When your labmate becomes a meme

EDIT: part 2 of this story is here

It was a (not surprisingly) rainy night in my place. Drinking for (one of my) last farewell party with the working group. Suddenly Giulia captured this amazing “Piotr moment”:


Two days later the first meme appeared in our group mail:

wise piotr


The “Create your Piotr meme” game was just started….

Now, you can do such things only if:

a) you are in an amazing group (10 active creative players in a group of 15 people)

b) you have Piotr in the group. (Btw, his perspective on DCC is freshly pressed on JACS)

In this gallery few of the created memes (so far we reached 50… and counting):

now we are going to print stickers :)

the Mass of Everything


Another one for #ChemMovieCarnival hosted by See Arr Oh (more information about this movie carnival on his blog here), and the two previous round are here http://justlikecooking.blogspot.se/2013/04/chemmoviecarnival-aaaand-action.htmland http://justlikecooking.blogspot.se/2013/04/chemmoviecarnival-take-two.html

I should thank Petra (material scientist/Tv series addict/muffin magician) for showing me this NCIS episode on liquid nitrogen.

The episode is the 7×05 “Code of Conduct”. One man died for ingesting nitrogen, and that’s ok. I mean scientifically correct.

The fun part (as in most of the Tv series) is the Mass Spec. I’m usually quite blaspheme when I have to run/read/understand the mass… While they can find whatever they want…. Even (liquid) NITROGEN… Yes you read it correctly, they have a peak for Nitrogen….

Screenshot (minute 15.52):


and transcript:
“There’s more. Sample from our dead Marine’s stomach. I expected to find liquid nitrogen, of course, but I did not expect to find acetone and benzene in his flesh.”

So, she even EXPECT the peak of nitrogen… “Benzine” is also quite funny…. And naturally a single peak for the “Turpentine”….

Moreover, I’m quite sure that my Spectrometer doesn’t label the peaks for what they are… Where I can buy one of those?

So, remember NCIS stands for “Non Chemist Ion Spectrometer”

A fistful of (science) videos

 Creativity is something you have or you don’t. The part-time creative doesn’t exist. Here some creative songs/videos/interpretations from different scientists. I love when something is both creative and funny, especially if it comes from scientists. Apparently it is quite common in the USA where probably they realize that a creative guy is always creative and not only in the lab. Great way to screen for creative possible employees. The Garg group in the UCLA is already doing it since quite long time with chemistry students here, and the Molecular and Cell Biology in Berkeley is doing an annual competition for funny science related video. They even have a youtube channel

Anyway, here some of my favorite: 


That’s the basic, if you are a chemist and you have internet you should already know this song. If not, well, we do have a problem. More form the mathematician genius Tom Lehrer – Poisoning pigeons in the park (you can find some chemistry there as well) and Lobachevky (good points on plagiarism)

Ok, this is not exactly chemistry, but the Monty Python are the father of the nonsense, and my brain is a big fan of that. If you don’t know who they are, you probably want to ask Santa Claus the DVD or the blu ray box of Monty Python’s flying circus. 

This is a chemistry song. How may times you thought that TEA was enough for deprotonation and then ending up in refluxing stuff in almost saturated KOH solution?  
Best line: “Your stirring bar is dissolving, the TLC shows no products”

Great cover although the original one was funny as well (most beautiful girl in the room).
Best line: “just me and you, and other seven dudes, waiting for the centrifuge”

AMAZING interpretation of the phd life (under pressure). This is one of my favorite. And I guess that convincing so many people in participating in the project was not an easy call. 

I love the Cake, and naturally this lab cover. 

If you say “motherfucking coats” you deserve to be here. That’s the normal lab language. 

almost 4 millions viewers for this parody. 
Best line: “Can’t read you protocol, it’s written in Thai”

This chemical parody of “sexy and I know it” is age restricted on youtube. Just for letting you know what are we taking about. Serious stuff here. Great video.
Best line “I got product in my flask and I ain’t afraid to show it”