yubsie: (Delirium)
In my department, we have to give a seminar about a current hot topic that has nothing to do with our research. We're supposed to discuss the topic critically, looking at both the potential and where there's room for improvement. I gave mine a couple years ago and the faculty was quite happy that in addition pointing out a rather major problem, I proposed a potential solution.

This week in JACS (which is a quite good journal) where they did exactly that. I actually predicted where this area of chemistry should go. It's kinda awesome.
yubsie: (Sleepy ShinShin)
Back from a week of conferenceness. It was a good time, though definitely mentally exhausting.

At the opening mixer, we had the interesting moment of realizing that thanks to last year's conference in Austria, we actually knew more of the European people than the North American people. Crispin (our German exchange student from the fall term) eventually showed up. He'd forgotten his poster in Toronto and had to go back. Beats the time Paul left his in Denmark!

On Monday my labmate was really sick and I wound up having to present her poster. That was pretty nerve wracking as it's quite far from my own chemistry. But I don't think I made an idiot of myself in front of Professor Kira! He's a huge name in silicon chemistry and he came by to ask me questions right near the end.

After doing that, giving my own talk the next day wasn't half as bad. I'd been pretty nervous since it's an international conference and it's mostly professors giving actual talks. Still, talking about my own work was way easier! My microphone kept cutting out, but years of theatre are good for many things. A lot of people really liked the talk and I had some good discussions. Joe Lambert (big guy in silicon NMR) was really interested in what I was doing. He was also disappointed I didn't wear my fedora to give the talk, but I am so not yet advanced enough in my career to be quirky. :p

Wednesday was a half day of talks and an excursion to Niagara Falls. I got lucky and wound up on the bus that went to the winery first. And had the always awkward moment at a wine tasting of "Actually... I can't have alcohol". The cheese was nice though, and the ice wine smelled good. Apparently the other groups didn't get to try that one, which is a shame since that is the wine the area is known for. Then we went to Niagara Falls and I wound up showing the Europeans around despite only having been there once. Luckily our bus driver was great and pointed out all the key locations before dropping us off. Going on the Maid of the Mist was awesome, I really need to go back with Ryan. :p

On Thursday I got to meet my academic grandfather, Adrian Brook. This year is the thirtieth anniversary of both the Si=Si bond and the Si=C bond. Brook made the latter, so he made it to that day of the conference. (Bob West made the other, but he always comes to these things). The banquet was that night, which was lots of fun.

On Friday it was time to switch from ISOS to IDW so we mostly looked around Niagara Falls. The opening reception was at a rooftop patio overlooking the falls that is the best place to watch the fireworks. Awesome.

THe food. THe FOOD at IDW. Usually breakfast and lunch aren't included with this one, but since it was in a hotel they had to spend a certain amount on food/drink. The nibbles was scrumptious and for lunch on Saturday they had this amazing cheese tortellini in a white wine sauce. And ample drink tickets for all. :p

This was the conference where I was giving my poster. ANd I won a prize for it, yay!
yubsie: (Hobbie tragically exploded)
Today's lesson: Airlocking a Sharpie is a bad idea.

We have needed a new marker in the glovebox for a while, as the one we have now only writes when held at a really awkward angle, leading to a lot of illegibly labelled samples. Today we had an extensive discussion about the best way to bring the marker in, balancing the need to keep it from bringing in moisture against the need to not dry the thing out. We discussed whether we should cycle it in overnight or just the way we do for regular things. Cap on or off.

At no point did it occur to any of us that it might not be such a great idea to put it under vacuum.

So yeah, that exploded. Next time, we blow it in. :p
yubsie: (Bright side)
So today I made an interesting discovery. I have a paper that I didn't know about. I was talking to our summer student and we somehow wound up on the website for the group I did my undergrad with.

Turns out the project I worked on the summer after second year got published. I'm guessing Steve probably emailed my Mount A address about it, but it got buried in spam. My name is misspelled on the paper, but it exists and is totally going on my CV!
yubsie: (Epilogue)
NMR people really like their silly acronyms. I think I've found the new record.

There is a pulse sequence called DUMBO. It stands for Decoupling Using Mind Boggling Optimization.

This is not the silliest one. There is one called EASY-GOING DUMBO.

Evolving Algorithim Serving Your Global Optimization Improvement Needs Gladly.

When your sequence name includes the word gladly, it's a little too obvious that you're trying for the silly acronym.
yubsie: (Duck Bill Woo Oo!)
So... how nerdy is it that not only am I reading The Science of Battlestar Galactica, I am nitpicking it? :p

There's just this one chapter where the general idea is right. It's talking about how silica pathways could slip by medical testing, even an MRI. And their explanation of how an MRI works is wrong. THey talk about the magnetic field interacting with the dipole moment of the water molecules, but it's actually the inherent spin of the hydrogen nuclei in the water molecules interacting with the magnetic field. The reason silica brains wouldn't show up is that silicon-29 resonates at a way lower frequency than hydrogen-1.

This is why my Cylon detector would have just involved tuning an MRI machine to silicon-29. :p (When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. My research, for those of you who don't know, is in nuclear magnetic resonance specroscopy, which is based on the same principle as MRI)

And then they follow up with an explanation of Baltar's Cylon detector as possibly being a mass spectrometer. Which does seem reasonable, but their explanation of how a mass spec works is a little off. They talk about turning a molecule into its constituent atoms... which isn't quite accurate. It fragments the molecules, but that doesn't necessarily means it takes them straight down to atoms. Indeed, it wouldn't be nearly as useful that way. By looking a the fragmentation pattern we can identify molecules.

Hi, my name is Yubsie, and I'm a giant nerd. (Also, I bet you never expected to see that particular combination of tags on an entry :p)
yubsie: (Shin the detective)
Today's moment of awesome:

There was a guest speaker today. At the end of the seminar, someone asked him a question about one of his spectra that he couldn't answer. And I... knew what was going on. I didn't say anything in the seminar itself because there was one property I needed to double check, but I explained it to him later after he met with Kim.

The question was about NMR, which most synthetic people use as a tool but is the actual focus of my research. Still, he's a prof and I could explain something he didn't know, and that was... kinda awesome.
yubsie: (Bright side)
Well, back to the usual at work. But nothing remotely noteworthy's been happening (except that I am developing a hatred for the 4 mm probe because it behaves less every time I use it...), so have some other random babblings!

Ryan was away this weekend. When we're both home, the cats sleep on me. When I'm away, the cats sleep on my side of the bed. This was actually the first time Ryan's been away while I'm still here. Guess where the cats slept!

Yep, on me.


Today my MP3 player started acting up randomly and refused to turn off until I reset it. This would have been irritating... except it was playing "All Along the Watchtower", so it was really quite disturbing.


And today I discovered that they sell UWO branded Ugg boots. This is quite possibly the most frightening and yet oddly appropriate piece of university merchandise. Seeing as the stereotypical "Western Girl" has bleache blonde hair and wears miniskirts and Ugg boots in the dead of winter. Now they can be Western Ugg boots!

Also, are leg warmers back in fashion or something? If so... why?
yubsie: (wtf by <lj user="non_horation">)
Really Angewandte Chemie? I thought we'd already scraped the bottom of the barrel when it comes to "To be or not to be" jokes, but I was wrong.

This week's issue has... "Two P or not two P?".
yubsie: (Legolas)
I'm finally getting the data I've been trying to get since March! It isn't arcing, it's spinning normally and there is SIGNAL! I am... probably a little more excited than I should be.

There is a moth in the room. Medi is going nuts.

Oh, speaking of the cats, when we first adopted Schroedy, she was terrified of thunderstorms. If she heard thunder she would run and hide in the closet until it was over. But the other day it was storming and she was just lazing around. So that's good!

Yeah... this is what passes for excitement in my life. :p
yubsie: (Hobbie tragically exploded)
We had to call hazmat today, that's always a fun time. I was looking for concentrated HCl because I had used up our stock bottle of 1 M stuff. While in the acid cabinet, not only did I discover that we are in fact out of concentrated HCl, but also that there was seriously sketchy bottle in there. We knew what it was... at least at some point. But the top was bulging and actually cracked, so we think there was some kind of gas buildup. And there was brown stuff running all down the side.

We also realized it should have been thrown out two years ago because it was from 2007 and you're not supposed to keep ethers past one year. We're usually pretty good about clearing out the solvent cabinet, but no one really thought to check the acid cabinet. At least it wasn't twenty years old? Then we would have been calling the bomb squad.

So yeah, we had to call hazmat about that. We're still not entirely sure what we're going to do with it, they need to talk to the waste disposal team in the morning. So for now the verdict is "NOBODY TOUCH IT".

So that was my excitement for the day. :p
yubsie: (Default)
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to something that is definitely chemistry and not biology! We are all terribly excited. I'd actually heard of two of the three winners. Probably because the reactions they won for are named after them. It's not that ribosomes and green fluorescent protein aren't important, they're just... really bio-y. :p

So yeah, the prize was awarded to Richard Heck, Akira Suzuki and Ei-ichi Negishi for palladium cross coupling. NOt sure who Negishi is, exactly, but Steve's lab did a lot of work with the Suzuki-Miyaura reaction (btw, I feel kinda bad for Miyaura right now, he developed it too!). And, well, my third year Organometallics final included a question about "What the heck is the Heck reaction?"

Palladium cross coupling is a carbon carbon bond forming reaction. There aren't a lot of reactions that do this. So in a lot of drug synthesis, there is at some point a step where two chunks of the molecule that have been built up separately are stuck together using one of these reactions. It's actually a whole family of reactions depending on what exactly are the groups being removed when they do the coupling, but they're all catalyzed by palladium.
yubsie: (OMEL Mark)
Today was an incredibly busy and yet spectacularly unproductive day. John from the machine shop came up with an airtight cap for the NMR rotors and I was testing it last night on some starting material I got from another lab. (We didn't have any cheap, air sensitive starting materials with good NMR handles that weren't going to catch fire).

Well, I got in this morning and found that the spinning had gone nuts overnight. Even though it had been spinning quite stably for a couple hours when I left. Grr.

So we tried to get it spinning again by using some standards we had lying around that we knew spun well. Yeah... no. So I sighed and went to pack my standard in the next size down so we could use that probe instead. It meant that we couldn't use the fancy new cap but we had an improvised system that I knew could buy us 24 hours of the compound not dying horribly. The spinning is a bit touchier on that one, but it works once it's going. I was doing calibrations and things were going fine until I actually started trying to calibrate tin.

Yeah, one scan with the proton decoupling on "barely there" and the probe started to arc. This probe has had this problem before and John tried to fix it, but we knew his fix was just buying us time. So yeah, that time is up and we need to replace a part.

Mat got John up to try to fix the spinning on the first probe. He cleaned it and it SORTA works. Some rotors spin and some don't. So now the plan is to use that one and hope the rotor I put my sample in works.

I'm learning so much about troubleshooting spectrometer issues!

Maybe tomorrow I'll actually get data. On my third day of having the spectrometer. Yeah.
yubsie: (Default)
It's Friday! And for those of you that have forgotten, that means it's...


This week in Angewandte Chemie we got "In-do-line of fire" as the subtitle for a paper about, well, indolines. And then there was a sensor paper with the subtitle "Sense and sense-ability". So that's two terrible puns in one issues. THat's just crossing a line.
yubsie: (Default)
Everything in the NMR room has abandonment issues. Mat is on vacation this week. So far the shimming/locking on the 600 has gone down. Because a cable got disconnected. A cable no one had any reason to go near. Then Shatner (the robot that loads the samples on the Mercury) was drunk or something and kept manhandling the samples back into place and there have been mass errors. And then the tuning on the 400 was completely frakked up. I spent an hour tuning it to get it to "It'll DO."

So yeah, it's been an adventure. Mat's back on Tuesday.

In exciting news, I beat the bus on my bike the other day! I left at a time where I might have been able to make it to the stop if I'd run and the lights would have cooperated. The bus caught up to me when I got to the intersection on the edge of campus. But there's a whole loop the bus goes down that the bike path misses and I wound up getting to the chem building about a minute before the bus. It was exciting.

Also, I will try to do a picture post from Austria this weekend when I have a moment.
yubsie: (Default)
Specialist conferegnces are kinda awesome. I've been meeting all sorts of big names in group 14 chemistry (and have been very glad that Kim was here to introduce me, as there is no WAY I would have the nerve to go up to to Phil Power and say hello on my own).

Speaking of Phil Power, conversation with him turned to my first project that didn't work. He said it was a horrible project to put a new grad student on because it was way too hard and he only ever puts postdocs on that chemistry. Apparently the fact that I even made that ligand is an accomplishment. I feel SO MUCH BETTER now. :p

My poster was actually really popular. I often had a queue of people who wanted to talk about what I do. And people who wanted to tell me I'm very brave. :p There are a lot of big names that want me to try to look at their stuff.

After the poster session, we went out for drinks with a bunch of British students, which was great fun. We discussed such things as combining our national sports of queueing and apologizing. And they were amused by Canadian money. We also chatted about Doctor Who for a while. Toward the end I pulled out my fedora and apparently they had noticed it the day before and didn't recognize me without it.

Graz is an interesting city. The shops are all closed on Sundays, but apparently 6 AM is a good time for jackhammering.
yubsie: (Default)
So, my reaction mixture was pink today. It was very pretty. Too bad the product is supposed to be a white solid. I don't have a clue what I DID make, but it's not what I was trying to make. Also, the stuff that collected in the rotovap trap definitely shouldn't have been pink. The pink turned yellow when I added acetone. It was very cool whatever it was. :p

The local strawberries have appeared at my grocery store! THis makes me a happy Ewok. And distracts from confusing pink things. :p
yubsie: (Default)
So, the talk went pretty decently, I think. I got a few good questions, including one I had to ask the guy to take me through slowly afterwards (on the computational stuff).

But man, the guy before me thought he had a 40 minute talk when he actually had a 20 minute talk. I was kinda freaking out at that point because Kim's talk was pretty soon after mine in a different room and I was worried she wasn't going to be able to stay for my whole talk. She did manage it though. My talk was standing room only! Which... probably had more to do with the room being too small than anything else.

After the conference that day a bunch of us went to Vicki's to play the BSG game. Chris brought the Pegasus expansion and OMG it was EPIC. The humans won... but just barely. So many resources were at one or two. If the final crisis card had activated the Raiders, the civilian ships would have gone SQUISH. It... basically felt like the New Caprica rescue. :p

Also, we had apparently been playing Cylon attack cards wrong all this time. Which might explain why the humans always lost. :p

Other fun things at the conference: I ran into a friend from high school. I hadn't even realized she was in chemistry, so that was awesome.

Oh, and Steve (my supervisor from undergrad) was actually there this year. It took me days to actually track him down, but I did eventually get to talk to him.

After the conference (well, actually, I blew off the last afternoon) I met up with my mom and we went to see Mamma Mia. It was definitely more fun seeing it with her than seeing the movie with Ryan, since Ryan doesn't like ABBA. Also, the stage show is better because the male leads can actually sing and dance. :p It was lots of fun.

After the show Mom took me for supper and then gave me cab fare because it was pouring rain. Except it took me forever to actually get a cab. But I did eventually make it to the train station!

So yeah, we were an hour late even getting on the train. I was going to email Ryan from the train, except not only was the wifi not working... the power outlets weren't working. I'd never seen that happen before. Though I ran into one of the guys from the department at the station, so at least I was sitting with him and had someone to talk to (otherwise I did have a book...)

We also got stuck for like half an hour in Brantford when the brakes got stuck on one of the cars. Oddly, even though I've been on trains with much worse delays, this was probably one of the more annoying ones. I think it's because it was supposed to be such a quick and easy trip without even having to change trains, so when it took twice as long as it should have it was really annoying.

Poor Ryan though. He was at the station to pick me up at 9:30 when my train was supposed to get in and he had to wait until 11:30. And he had to work at six this morning. It was most unfortunate.

But, I'm back!
yubsie: (Default)
So, apparently my solemn duty in 658 practices is to declare "You just made every synthetic in the audience cry" or "Yeah... everyone but the physical chemists stopped listening three slides ago." I guess there are advantages to not being sure what kind of chemist I am. :p

For that matter, when Jiacheng was practicing I had to say things like "Remember, there are physical chemists in the audience" or "Dammit, you're doing that total synthesis thing where you use abbreviations and assume we all know them!"
yubsie: (Default)
So, they've finally managed to make a stable fluoroborylene complex. The Angewandte subtitle? "B and F become BFFs!"

Either I'm tired, or that's so bad it's almost actually funny. I'm leaning toward tired though.


yubsie: (Default)

February 2013

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