Poster Ingenuity
Aug28

Poster Ingenuity

In a sea of posters at a chemistry conference it is hard to stand out from the crowd. But graduate student Natalia Shustova of Colorado State University managed to do so at the combination 19th International Symposium on Fluorine Chemistry/3rd International Symposium on Fluorous Technologies this week with a 3-D presentation. Shustova’s research is on encapsulating metal atoms inside fullerenes that have fluorinated groups on the surface. She made a hemispheric fullerene model out of colored poster board, leaving the fullerene structure’s hexagons in place but cutting out the pentagons. In that way the scandium atoms trapped inside the fullerene, represented by balloons, were visible. She placed the details of her research on pieces of paper mounted on the hexagons. In the photo, Shustova chats with Konrad Seppelt of Free University of...

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Time Out
Aug28

Time Out

Organizers of the fluorine conferences taking place in Grand Teton National Park this week did a lot of thinking ahead when planning the technical sessions. Fluorine meetings tend to be a bit relaxed, and fluorine chemists a bit verbose, with speakers running over their allotted time and ensuing discussions dragging things out even further. But with so many lectures on the schedule, the organizers knew they had to keep speakers on time. Typically a session chair at a conference will give a little warning to the speaker or stand up when their time is running out. At the fluorine conferences the organizers are trying a different approach: electronic timers. A clock is set by a conference staff member at the beginning of a talk, so that the speaker sees exactly how much time they have remaining. A beeper goes off with five minutes remaining, and again when time runs out. At the outset of the conference the organizers explained this protocol, with the threat that anyone not ceasing when time ran out would have the plug pulled on their PowerPoint presentation. The session chairs are supposed to be the enforcers, but so far none of them have seemed to have the heart to cut anyone off. But the speakers sure are talking fast with one eye on the clock and skipping slides to end on time. It doesn’t seem to impact the quality of the talks, but it is keeping everyone honest. In the photo, Viacheslav Petrov of DuPont, with his back to the camera, is trying to beat the clock, down to less than two minutes to go, as session chair Surya Prakash of the University of Southern California keeps a wary...

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Fluorine With A Flourish
Aug27

Fluorine With A Flourish

This week the 19th International Symposium on Fluorine Chemistry and the 3rd International Symposium on Fluorous Technologies are taking place jointly at Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Imagine taking a premier collection of scientific presentations and holding them in a vacation setting, and that is what we have here. Some 300 of the world’s leading fluorine chemists are in attendance, representing 24 different countries. Besides great chemistry, what drew these scientists to the conference is the backdrop of the Grand Teton Mountain Range. The mountains are a constant presence, mesmerizing. People flock to the front of the lodge and just stand in the Rocky Mountain sunshine and rarified air and stare. It doesn’t matter if you have stared at the Tetons before; you can’t help coming back for more. Then there is the threat of wildlife at any moment—grizzly and black bears, moose, elk, pronghorn antelope, and wolves. Even on the first night of the conference a brown bat got into the lodge and swooped over people’s heads. Of course big animal sightings are rare and most people settle for watching squirrels and song birds. Then they look up at the Tetons again. Besides that, the conference organizers outdid themselves with arrangements for the accommodations, food and drink, and extracurricular programming. There have been Native American musicians: Calvin Standing Bear (flute, vocals) and James Torres (keyboard), who make up the group Red Tail Chasing Hawks, performed during conference sessions, including their popular song Fly, Eagle, Fly. And there have been displays of eagles and other birds of prey by the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program, which aids injured birds. Another event was a western barbeque with a horse whispering demonstration. Made popular by a book and movie, horse whispering is a kindler, gentler way to break in horses for riding. It is a spiritual approach, as a cowboy demonstrated by taking a three-year old horse that had never been ridden before and in about 90 minutes was able to saddle and ride the horse. Initial skeptics went away in awe.     There are also rafting trips on the Snake River, dinner cruises on Jackson Lake, bus tours of nearby Yellowstone National Park, and more. Did I mention this is a set of chemistry...

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