Tagged: relax

15 reasons why NOT to date a chemist


Early this week I was reading this “dating advice” on 15 reasons why to date a chemist. Although most of their points are quite good there is always the other side of the coin…. So… 15 reasons why NOT to date a chemist:

1) We may be smelly. We are daily working with thiols, amines, tosyl chloride and so on and so on. We get used to the bad smell in few hours and we don’t care anymore. But the stink of amines stick on you for days giving you that “did you use cat’s pee as cologne” distinct smell.

2) We work 24/7/365. Even when we are not in the lab we are usually thinking about something chemistry related. We may seems interested in what you are telling us, but in all honesty, we are just thinking “maybe I should use less equivalents of X in my reaction”

3) We are stubborn. This sometimes is a good point, but most of the time it is not. We may spend days in trying to figure out why the dishwasher is not working. “Shall I call the technician?” – “No f. way, I’m on it, I have a PhD in chemistry I can do this”. It may take more than one month before calling the technician….

4) We are not big fan of chitchatting. Human relationship are not our favorite thing. If you want to talk about what someone did and why he/she acted in that way it’s kind of meaningless for us. Do you have data, proof, strong evidence of something, can you reproduce it? If yes, then we can analyze that, otherwise it’s just philosophy.

5) We have an analytical mind. We analyze the problem, dissect it into smaller problems and then we solve it. You may not like the solution, but trust us, most of times that’s the best solution.

6) We cannot stand non-scientifically educated person. In a party your best friend is “enlightening” other people on how toxic aspartame is and you see in our eyes the fire of “oh, for Finkelstein sake I’m going to destroy him/her”. Your significant other already told you million times to let it go, but it’s stronger than us bashing someone with some good chemistry.

7) We always have deadlines. Always. Now for a paper, now for a grant. Please do not disturb, I’m trying to write.

8) We are really picky on Tv shows. In CSI someone is storing a pipette upside down? Funk that show, I’ll never watch it again and I’m sending them a two pages long explanation on how to proper use a pipette.

9) We want acetone. Waiting for glasses to be dry is unacceptable, give me some acetone and I’ll take care of them.

10) We may be extremely annoying in the kitchen. “What are you doing? Did you put the steak before the pan was hot??? NOOOOOOOOOOO, for the sake of Maillard, why are you doing this to me? whyyyyyyy?”.

11) Sometimes we can lose a lot of time at the TSA in the airport. It may take a while to explain your research and why the residues on your computer triggered their alarm.

12) We have tons of chemistry books and printed literature around the house.

14) We are superstitious. We don’t believe in that, but if it works….. Having a green cap for your NMR tube is a good sign. Using balloons of different colors for different reaction because it worked with that specific color of ballon. Never change it!!!!

15) We know how to make drugs, bombs and how to kill you with thousand different chemicals.


This list is mainly for organic chemist (that’s because of my background), it may not apply to computational or physical chemists.
So, how many of you I pissed off with this list? Do you think I’m wrong?
Be honest with yourself and you will see that at least half of the points can be easily applied to yourself.



Few of my favorite:


Finally your non-gmo salt

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



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….. 

In the Summertime – Chemistry Edition

This post is part of #chemsummer blog carnival (C&EN powered). What’s better than a good summer song? Probably more than 170 chemistry related songs, but that’s another story.

One of my favorite “lightheartedness” (does this word exists?) summer song is “In the Summertime” by Mungo Jerry. Whistling this song while biking to the university it’s amazing. And, come on, the upright bass, the blown bottle, the stereo sound, the 70s mustaches…. This song is simply perfect. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here the original song: (WARNING: it’s addictive)

And that’s the chemistry version of the song. Feel free to sing along (if you record it and put it on youtube it will be even more amazing):

In the summer time when the student are gone
You can stay in the lab
like an empty home
When the time is right
You got products, you got products on your mind
Have a solvent, have a hood
Go there and synthesize it pretty good

If there are more spots, purify it well
If there are no spots, you’ve lost I can feel
Speed along the lane
Do a ton or a ton and twenty-five
When the sun goes down
You can make it, you can make it, that’s your life

We’re not bad people, but we are dirty and we are on caffeine
We love every solvent even the nasty bad benzene
When the weather’s fine
We’re in the lab or we do some spectroscopy
We’re always tired
Life’s in the lab, yeah, that’s our philosophy

Synthesize along with us, dee dee dee dee dee
Da da da da da, year we’re che-mi-sts
Da da da dee da doo dee da dee da dee da da, yeah
Da da da da da, de da da dee da da

When winter’s here, yeah, it’s promotion time
Bring your booze, wear your clean labcoat ’cause it will be soon labtime
And we’ll start again
Synthesizing and purifying some other stuff
If it’s black, if it’s grey
I don’t care if it is good for an X-ray

In the summer time when the weather is hot
Most of your solvent bottles for the pressure will pop
When the weather’s right
You got data, you got data on your mind
Have a drink, have a chat
Check the data for any correlation you can find

If the data fit, write it down on your book
If the data is crap, back to lab and cook
Speed along the synthesis
Do a turn or return to step twenty-five
When the sun goes down
You can sleep, you can sleep in the lab

We’re not bad people, but we are dirty and we are on caffeine
We love every solvent even the nasty bad benzene
When the weather’s fine
We’re in the lab or we do some spectroscopy
We’re always tired
Life’s in the lab, yeah, that’s our philosophy

Synthesize along with us, dee dee dee dee dee
Da da da da da, year we’re che-mi-sts
Da da da dee da doo dee da dee da dee da da, yeah

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”

The 5 Ws

The 5 Ws are the basics of journalism: Who, What, When, Where and Why. These questions are also the minimal set of questions you should ask yourself when writing a paper, a blog post or in general for setting up a good talk/poster. 

Few days ago I was laughing reading this, pretty precise, post on “how to piss of an Italian” and I recall that some time ago in the lab we did more or less the same thing searching the 5 Ws on different nationalities. What’s better than doing it now on the blog? 

I decided for three nationalities (Who): Italians (MSc), Germans (PhD) and Dutch (PostDoc).

What italians

What germansWhat dutch

It’s clear that Americans are extremely worried of what Italians and Germans think about them. Dutch oven seems to be the winner of this contest. There is also the possibility that most people imagine Italians like Mario Bross, and they are disappointed when it’s not like this. This could explain the “what italians look like” question. No clue about “black people” and the painter one…..

When italians

When germansWhen dutch

Don’t laugh. The google suggestion when you write “when italians” is “place a finger under the eye…..”. It actually means that someone is a “good guy”, quite intelligent. When we drink cappuccino? Seriously? Always, of course, from breakfast to the after party. I had to search for “say maron” because I had no clue on what they were searching. Then I realized that it was misspelled. It’s “maronna mia, or maronn”. And then I also realized that most of the Italians in the states are probably from the southern part of Italy (It’s actually my dialect).

let’s move to the Germans…. “when the germans bombed pearl harbor”???? I really hope they were looking for a quote from National Lampoons Animal House (video here). I really hope so…. And I have also to stand on the german side about the last question. They DO say nice things and they are nice too, but you cannot realize it when they say it in german. It’s not their fault it’s only their language…

Where italiansWhere germansWhere dutch

Apparently, Italian and Germans moved to texas, and most people don’t where where Dutch is spoken or where they are living, thinking that they are just imaginary people…. Maybe I’ll surprise you with this, but, they are real!!!

Why italiansWhy germansWhy dutch

I’ll not even comment on the WHY question……

Squash Ballet

How to release some research pressure? With squash naturally….. (and thanks to Jan for introducing me in squashing stuff)

Here some footwork ballet:


And here the (power)shots ballet:


Unfortunately there are some issues between Germany and Youtube. If you are in Germany you may want to go here (https://vimeo.com/59815778) to watch the shots video. And here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blocking_of_YouTube_videos_in_Germany) if you want to know why you cannot see some video in Germany.