Science Is Hard
Mar01

Science Is Hard

Experiment got you down? Reaction yield low? That chromatogram just not telling you what you want to hear? Take solace on this fine Friday in the fact that the National Science Foundation says “science is hard.” Or at least that’s what our favorite faux-news outlet, The Onion, reports. Admittedly, this article is from 2002. But I just saw it this week thanks to a tweet from @the_distillate. So it’s new to me and now, perhaps, new to you too. According to the report, NSF held a symposium back in the day to discuss just how confusing various scientific disciplines can be. The scientists that attended came to the conclusion that the “Law of Difficulty” is true. I leave you with a few choice quotes: "To be a scientist, you have to learn all this weird stuff, like how many molecules are in a proton," University of Chicago physicist Dr. Erno Heidegger said.   Dr. Ahmed Zewail, a Caltech chemist whose spectroscopic studies of the transition states of chemical reactions earned him the Nobel Prize in 1999, explained in layman's terms just how hard the discipline of chemistry is, using the periodic table of the elements as a model. "Take the element of tungsten and work to memorize its place in the periodic table, its atomic symbol, its atomic number and weight, what it looks like, where it's found, and its uses to humanity, if any," Zewail said. "Now, imagine memorizing the other 100-plus elements making up the periodic table. You'd have to be, like, some kind of total brain to do that." So when things aren't working out in the lab, just remember, what you're trying to do is really friggin' hard. Happy Friday, Newscripts...

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In the Footsteps of a Giant: Inspiration at #ACSAnaheim
Mar29

In the Footsteps of a Giant: Inspiration at #ACSAnaheim

This Newscripts post is by Associate Editor Linda Wang: It’s 1:00 AM in Anaheim, and Gergeis Yosef, 26, is wrapping up an eight-hour shift as a waiter at the Hilton. His bright cheerful eyes hide the fatigue that he feels inside. Yosef attends classes during the day at Irvine Valley Community College, where he is majoring in biology, and in the evening, he heads to his full-time job at the hotel. Five years ago, Yosef arrived in the U.S. from Egypt alone with just $500 in his pocket. His first job was at a hotel cleaning rooms and washing dishes. After the hotel closed for renovations, he got a job at a gas station. Ironically, it was there that he was inspired to pursue his dream of getting an education. It happened that the owner of the gas station was reading the book “Voyage Through Time: Walks of Life to the Nobel Prize” by Nobel Laureate Ahmed Zewail, who is also Egyptian and winner of this year’s ACS Priestley Medal. In the book, Zewail chronicles his early experiences as a boy growing up in Egypt and his work that led up to the Nobel Prize.  Yosef borrowed the book and read it during his overnight shifts. “This book really changed me,” Yosef says. “It changed how I look at the challenges in life. And it makes me look at my dream and say that maybe one day it can come true. What keeps me going is the faith that tomorrow will be better.” Yosef’s story came to C&EN’s attention through ACS Executive Director and CEO Madeleine Jacobs, who met him earlier in the week while dining at the Hilton. She promised to bring Yosef a copy of C&EN signed by Zewail. Yosef's dream is to someday become a doctor. He and his wife, whom he met at his first job at the hotel, are expecting their first child. “It’s really hard having a family and a full-time job, but I’m sticking to my faith that I can do it,” he says. We couldn’t believe in you more, Gergeis. UPDATE: Jacobs came through with the copy of C&EN signed by Zewail. She hand-delivered it to a beaming Yosef Tuesday...

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