Join “Countdown to the Chemistry Nobel!” Google Hangout #chemnobel – UPDATED
Oct02

Join “Countdown to the Chemistry Nobel!” Google Hangout #chemnobel – UPDATED

Who's going to take home the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry? Will chemistry's most coveted honor go to (GASP!) a biologist? Is there any point to all this pre-Nobel speculation? Maybe not, but there's no denying chemists enjoy taking part in the conversation. That's why we hope readers will tune in to C&EN's first Google Hangout, "Countdown to the Chemistry Nobel!" this Thursday, October 3, at 3PM Eastern US time. For those new to Google Hangouts, they are video chats broadcast live on the web. You can watch from Google Plus or YouTube. After the chat is finished it is archived on YouTube for anyone to view. Join the Hangout here. Carmen Drahl and Lauren Wolf will speak with Neil Withers and Paul Bracher about the runup to this year's prize, which will be announced Wednesday, October 9. What predictions are out there already and how reliable are they? Why did so few people predict that Dan Shechtman would win the Nobel Prize for quasicrystals? Watch for a discussion about these and other questions. Follow the conversation, and ask questions to the speakers on Twitter using the hashtag #chemnobel. UPDATE 10/2: I'm excited to announce another guest has joined the hangout: Simon Frantz. Simon Frantz is Editor of BBC Future, and a former senior editor of Nobelprize.org. Follow him on Twitter @simon_frantz Neil Withers is Features Editor for Chemistry World magazine. Follow him on Twitter @neilwithers Paul Bracher blogs at Chembark, and is Assistant Professor of Chemistry at St. Louis University. Follow him on Twitter @Chembark Carmen Drahl is a senior editor at Chemical & Engineering News. Follow her on Twitter @carmendrahl Lauren Wolf is an associate editor at Chemical & Engineering News. Follow her on Twitter...

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This Week on CENtral Science: Fireworks Disposal, Not-so- Alternative Careers, and More
Mar29

This Week on CENtral Science: Fireworks Disposal, Not-so- Alternative Careers, and More

Tweet of the Week: UC flack to me: Email is best way to contact researcher since many depts ditched phones due to budget cuts. What a world.— Sam Lemonick (@SamLemonick) March 28, 2013 When I read this I thought-- Really?? Then I figured, well, why not? I haven't had a land line since college. But I'm still wondering how big a chunk of change a phone bill really is in the grand scheme of the UC budget. Rachel will be handling this roundup during April. Until May, chem-keteers. To the network: Newscripts: In Print: Europe’s Got A Stink Problem and Fashion Police: Science Shoes and Amusing News Aliquots Terra Sigillata: Saturday Morning Natural Products PharmChem Radio! and Dr. Gina Stewart on Career Flexibility and Entrepreneurship The Safety Zone: Letter on Donaldson Enterprises fatal fireworks incident and Defining chemical safety, health, hygiene, and security The Watchglass: Kevlar Inventor Stephanie Kwolek and Behind that Chess Pic and Protein Folding and Lise Meitner and Carbonyl Attack and Radioimmunoassays take '77...

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This Week on CENtral Science: #Nobels, #SheriSangji
Oct12

This Week on CENtral Science: #Nobels, #SheriSangji

CENtral Science was a cornucopia of Nobel commentary this week: Just Another Electron Pusher: Awarding nontraditional chemistry Newscripts: A Nobel In Chemistry, Through The Eyes Of “Families” Terra Sigillata: HHMI and Duke Celebrate the Lefkowitz Chemistry Nobel, Lefkowitz and Kobilka win 2012 Chemistry Nobel for GPCRs, Gurdon and Yamanaka share Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2012, and Lefkowitz Nobel: “There’s a lot of love here.” (video goodness!) Plus, an update and some perspective on the Sheri Sangji case: The Safety Zone: Harran hearing in #SheriSangji case postponed and Chemjobber and Janet Stemwedel discuss #SheriSangji case and academic lab safety culture And the usuals: Newscripts: Amusing News Aliquots The Safety Zone: Friday chemical safety...

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A Nobel In Chemistry, Through The Eyes Of “Families”
Oct11

A Nobel In Chemistry, Through The Eyes Of “Families”

    Most scientists end up having two families. The first is the one they are born or adopted into. But the second, the lab family, can be every bit as important. I've been fortunate to connect with "lab family" members who never overlapped with me at the benchtop, but who share a sense of camaraderie because of our shared mentors. In fact, I credit one of my Sorensen lab siblings, Lucy Stark, with helping me make the "alternative career" connections that put me where I am today. Robert J. Lefkowitz, who took home half of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, has both kinds of family in spades. At a Duke press conference, colleagues extolled his talents as a teacher and mentor to hundreds of scientists, including his fellow laureate Brian Kobilka. Intrepid Terra Sig blogger, David Kroll, who had an excellent post about the chemistry Nobel on Wednesday morning, ventured to Duke to capture the celebrations with Lefkowitz' lab family. (Thank you, David, for sharing your photos!) And via Twitter, I learned about the reaction to the prize from a member of Lefkowitz' outside-the-lab family: his daughter, Cheryl Renée Herbsman (née Lefkowitz), an author. Wow, just found out my dad won the Nobel Prize in chemistry! http://t.co/YpX45dip— Cheryl Herbsman (@cherylherbsman) October 10, 2012 I emailed Herbsman a few questions, which she was gracious enough to answer. I've lightly edited this exchange for grammar and content. CD: Growing up, what kinds of things did you hear from your father about what he worked on? CRH: Growing up, I don’t think my siblings and I necessarily understood what our father was researching. We knew it had to do with receptors, but that might have been the full extent of our understanding. Sometimes he would talk at dinner about whether the research was going well or not. Occasionally he would take us to the lab with him on a Saturday morning, where we would have wheeled desk-chair races and explore the walk-in refrigerators. Often, we would hear him dictate papers into his Dictaphone. The words didn’t mean much to us. But I remember my younger sister writing up “scientific papers” of her own with a lot of important-sounding made-up words. My dad always ended the dictation by saying, “RJL etc.” So my sister ended hers with her initials, etc., as well. How much did you and your siblings realize how well-known your dad’s work was? Did you have any idea he might win a Nobel Prize someday? When we were kids we didn’t realize how important his research would become. But as we got older, and he began winning more...

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Martin Chalfie’s Chemistry Confession
Nov15

Martin Chalfie’s Chemistry Confession

"I have to tell you a horrible story," Martin Chalfie confided, a glass of merlot in his left hand. We were at the National Geographic Society, right across the street from ACS, and Chalfie, one of 2008's Nobel Laureates in Chemistry, had just taken part in a freewheeling discussion about invention and evolution, part of the National Geographic Live series of events. Earlier in the evening, Chalfie was asked about early moments of scientific inspiration that might portend a Nobel winner in chemistry. "Most good chemists say they tried to make fulminated mercury, or gunpowder, as a child. That wasn't part of my life," he'd said. In the years since the prize was announced I'd often thought about Chalfie's sort-of-but-not-really-connection to chemistry. So at the post-event reception, I asked him whether he identified with chemistry at all, especially in light of the prize. This prompted the confession. Columbia University's chemistry department, Chalfie tells me, houses a prominent display that lists all of the department's Nobel laureates in chemistry. It's an illustrious list. (That link only lists laureates through 2004, but I haven't found a more recent one.) Long story short, after the prize announcement the department invited Chalfie to join them and be a part of the display. "And I said no," Chalfie says. "We categorize things too much," he continued. Scientists in chemistry departments are doing fabulous work in biology, and vice versa, he contends. The Nobel he shared with Roger Tsien and Osamu Shimomura was a great chemistry prize "because the prize went to the molecule," not because of who won it, Chalfie says. And with that, he turned to the small crowd that had gathered to ask questions of their own. Bonus Chalfie goodness: Chalfie recently appeared on a Daily Show sketch. Asked by someone in the NatGeo audience whether he thought going on a cable TV show was worthwhile, he said " it's comedy. But the point they were trying to make was that science is actually important. I think they did a wonderful job." *I tweeted some of Chalfie's quotes to my followers live from the talk. I should note that I was at NatGeo for an installment of the DC SCience Tweetup, #DCscitweetup in twitter-speak, a meeting where local folks active in tweeting about science gather to chat in person and, of course, tweet the experience. NatGeo hosted us for this particular...

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