The 2007 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Part II

October 9th, 2007

Very early tomorrow morning, some lucky biologist will receive a call that he’s won the Nobel Prize in chemistry. Just kidding—it will probably be a medical doctor or a physicist.

When Roger Kornberg won the Nobel last year for transcription crystallography, a stink erupted not over whether his work was worthy of recognition, but whether it was chemistry.  But that’s old news. The big story this week is this year’s Nobel, and I know that the person who still reads this blog daily despite the fact that it’s never updated is interested in hearing revised odds for tomorrow’s winner.

I’m kind of torn about my final pick. On one hand, I’m thinking about adopting the same approach I used pre-2005 when I guessed that metathesis would win every year. My new perennial guess would be GFP/fluorescent probes, because I’m still of the opinion that these guys absolutely deserve to win it. It’s less a question of “if” and more a question of “when”—GFP and similar probes are ubiquitous in research nowadays.

On the other hand, given the stink made in the media over biology getting shoe-horned into the chemistry prize last year, I think the Swedes might feel some pressure to pick a pure chemist this year (Palladium couplings, anyone?). As Excimer points out, the stars might be aligned for the more physical achievements this time around due to the composition of the Nobel committee. That, plus the fact that the last two prizes have been organic and biological, means that this year’s prize stands a good chance of having some element of physical flavor, which GFP has none of.

So, in a nutshell, just about anyone could win the Nobel this year. My pick is GFP, but I expect to be surprised.

Now, back to the odds. I’ve revised them a little bit from earlier this year, thanks to reader input and personal changes of heart. Remember that these numbers address the question of who will win the Prize, not who should win it. As always, feel free to share your criticism in the comments. Also, my judgment is very probably impaired due to the fact that I’ve been inhaling a large quantity of thiols over the past several months.  Forgive me.

The Field
(everything not listed below), 3-1
Molecular Studies of Gene Recognition, Ptashne, 15-1
Nuclear Hormone Signaling, Chambon/Evans/Jensen, 15-1
Fluorescent Probes/GFP, Tsien/Prasher/Shimomura, 15-1
Modern Surface Chemistry, Somorjai/Ertl/Whitesides/Nuzzo/+/–, 15-1
Transition-Metal-Catalyzed Cross-Couplings, Suzuki/Heck/Sonogashira/Tsuji/+/–, 17-1
Instrumentation/Techniques in Genomics, Venter/+, 19-1
Biological Membrane Vesicles, Rothman/Schekman/+, 19-1
Techniques in DNA Synthesis, Caruthers/Hood/+, 19-1
Molecular Structure of the Ribosome, Steitz/Moore/Yonath/+/–, 29-1
Telomeres & Telomerases, Blackburn/Greider/Szostak, 29-1
Application of Lasers to the Study of Chemical Reactions, Zare, 39-1
Bioinorganic Chemistry, Lippard/Holm/Gray/+/–, 39-1
Mechanistic Enzymology, Walsh/Knowles/Abeles, 49-1
Combinatorial Chemistry/DOS, Schreiber/+, 49-1
Pigments of Life, Battersby/+, 49-1
Global Warming, Thatcher/Gore, 99-1
Development of the Birth Control Pill, Djerassi, 99-1
Development of Chemical Biology, Schultz/Schreiber/+, 99-1
Molecular Modeling and Assorted Applications, Karplus/Houk/Schleyer/+/–, 99-1
Contributions to Organic Synthesis, Evans/Danishefsky/Nicolaou/Ley/Trost/Stork/Wender/Kishi/Overman/+/–, 149-1
Fluorocarbons, Dupont/Curran/–, 199-1
Dendrimers, Frechet/Tomalia/+, 199-1
Application of NMR to Organic Chemistry, Roberts, 199-1
Understanding of Organic Stereochemistry, Mislow, 199-1
Mechanical Bonds and Applications, Sauvage/Stoddart/+, 199-1
Self-Assembly Whitesides/Nuzzo/Stang/+/–, 199-1
Nobel Gas Reactivity, Bartlett/+, 199-1
Tissue Engineering, Langer/+, 199-1
Contributions to Bioorganic Chemistry, Breslow/Eschenmoser/+, 199-1
Molecular Recognition, Dervan/+, 399-1
Development of Nanotechnology, Lieber/Whitesides/Alivisatos/Seeman/+/–, 399-1
Astrochemistry, Oka, 399-1
Zeolites, Flanigan, 399-1
Molecular Machines, Stoddart/Tour/+/–, 499-1
Studies in the Origin of Life, Miller/Orgel/+/–, 99999-1

Past Awards & the “Pre-Nobels”
Past Nobel Prizes in Chemistry
Lasker Award for Basic Research
Wolf Prize in Chemistry
Welch Award in Chemistry
Kyoto Prize
Von Hippel Award
Science Magazine’s Breakthroughs of the Year

The History of GFP
History of Pd-Catalyzed Cross-Coupling Reactions
History of Telomeres and Telomerases
A Really Biased History of the Global Warming Issue
History of Noble Gas Compounds

Buzz in the Blogosphere
ChemBark: 2007-1
Derek Lowe, In the Pipeline: 2005, 2006, 2007
Sceptical Chymist: 2006
Curious Wavefunction: 2006, 2007
Endless Frontier: 2006-1, 2006-2, 2006-3
Carbon-Based Curiosities: 2007
The Chem Blog: 2007


Previous Comments

  1. Anonymous Says:
    October 9th, 2007 at 6:42 pm paul it is a good list. i just suggest moving ptashne way down the list. last year’s nobel was a clear signal that transcription is not going to get another nobel for a while.and under schreiber (chemical biology) you might want to consider adding schultz.
  2. Anonymous Says:
    October 9th, 2007 at 6:44 pm your history of gfp link is broken. and i agree that gfp has got to get a prize. you know you have developed something important when the acronym becomes so common that people can slip it into conversation and nobody misses a beat.
  3. Paul Says:
    October 9th, 2007 at 6:51 pm Thanks…fixed the link.
  4. Joe Says:
    October 9th, 2007 at 7:09 pm Does your boss know you have this blog? I like Heck/Sonagashira/etc.
  5. excimer Says:
    October 9th, 2007 at 8:01 pm Frankly, at this point the only thing I like about the Nobel prize is it gives me something to blog about, and everyone has their own opinion, regardless of its importance to scientific progress. It’s like the American Idol of chemistry. Nominations for who Simon Cowell is in this metaphor?I saw David Collum give a seminar yesterday. Give him a prize. Hell, give him two. That was the best seminar ever.
  6. Darksyde Says:
    October 9th, 2007 at 8:15 pm Miller and urey are both dead. I’d also give high odds to the structure of the ribosome, perhaps split between cryo-em and crystallography, to round out the central dogma of biology given chemistry nobel prizes.
  7. Darksyde Says:
    October 9th, 2007 at 8:19 pm Also, Kwolek/Dupont for Kevlar has about as much probablility as dupont/bartlett for fluorocarbons, especially with soldiers getting shot up in the middle east.Nobel prize for chemistry should set a good precedent and start awarding to organizations, like the peace prize.
  8. bohemian scientist » Blog Archive » nobel week Says:
    October 9th, 2007 at 9:50 pm […] UPDATE: here’s a nice post about the chemistry prize (tip to ah): “Very early tomorrow morning, some lucky biologist will receive a call that he’s won the Nobel Prize in chemistry. Just kidding—it will probably be a medical doctor or a physicist.” these icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. […]
  9. Wavefunction Says:
    October 9th, 2007 at 10:33 pm Are you going to be up this night too Paul? Thiol smells may help you do that.
  10. AndrewHires Says:
    October 9th, 2007 at 10:47 pm Come on Roger!I’ve stayed up in lab 5 straight years now rooting for him. Maybe this is the year. If you look at the speakers from the Beyond Genes Nobel Symposium, they sure have picked off a few of those names over the last few years…Just don’t change my defense date if you win… :)
  11. Herman Blume Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 1:38 am I want to take some late post action on Heck and Soddart. I guess I am hoping a chemist will win this year.Herman
  12. One to set the record straight Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 2:28 am Roger Tsien’s bachelor’s degree was in chemistry and physics. He synthesized organic small molecule sensors well before embarking on GFP. So it is incorrect to say that awarding the prize to him would be awarding the prize to another biologist. For those desiring something with “physical flavor,” he could also be considered a physicist, given his background as well as the fact that understanding of GFP requires concepts of physical chemistry. The chemistry committee would have no reason other than perhaps a grotesquely juvenile desire to be unpredictable to not award it to Tsien.
  13. anon Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 5:48 am Congrats Paul, your prediction has been much better this time.
  14. TWYI Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 5:48 am Ertl?
  15. TWYI Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 5:50 am
  16. AndrewHires Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 5:50 am Well, it was one of your frontrunners, but no split!
  17. accurate Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 5:50 am…..ates/2007/
  18. Paul Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 5:51 am Wow. This prize is well deserved, but I’m shocked that Somorjai did not share in it.
  19. Wavefunction Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 6:11 am good job predicting paul
  20. Wavefunction Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 6:15 am but yeah, surprising that he did not share it with somorjai (considering that they shared the wolf)
  21. Shrug Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 7:44 am Feels like 1999 all over again. Why does the committee periodically insist on neglecting fundamental work done by other scientists in favor of giving a solo prize? Sheesh.
  22. Cry for Somorjai Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 7:59 am A solo prize is so wrong. Not sure what Somorjai did to get on their bad list.
  23. ElwoodCity Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 8:03 am I don’t know Ertl. Why him solo over Whitesides and Nuzzo?
  24. ElwoodCity Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 8:04 am I know it’s a lot of politics, but even politicians have to have a flimsy justification.
  25. not excimer Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 8:13 am That’s pretty ridiculous.
  26. DZ Squared Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 8:17 am Called it a few months ago!
  27. Wavefunction Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 8:47 am Somorjai’s exclusion is even more puzzling for me given the fact that to my knowledge he was also not involved in any controversies and/or allegations (which could potentially kill one’s chance)
  28. Cry for Somorjai Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 8:53 am I think the exclusion is a Berkeley thing
  29. barney Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 9:44 am No one from a US institution has won yet this year.
  30. Yggdrasil Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 9:59 am Mario Capecchi is at the University of Utah and Oliver Smithies is at UNC. No American-born scientists won anything this year, however.
  31. megafunnyman Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 10:11 am Totally agree with all comments! Good job Ertl for putting surf sci back on the map. It is a bit hard to understand why Samorjai was excluded. Its my opinion that both were very worthy contributors.
  32. Anonymous Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 10:21 am I’m shocked not to see Somoraji on the list. Why?
  33. Anonymous Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 1:16 pm Its a sad day in berkeley
  34. retread Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 1:59 pm It’s interesting to see the degree of contention about just which chemical achievements are most worthy of a Nobel. As Voltaire noted about religious sects, their very existence points to a lack of consensus.It is also interesting (to me at least) to contrast this with mathematics, in which towering achievements are agreed on by nearly everyone (Perelman and the Poincare conjecture, Wiles and Fermat’s last theorem). Not only that, but there is general agreement about the conceptual mountains remaining to be scaled (The Riemann hypothesis, etc. etc).I’m still plowing through Jones (but have stopped after Ch. 14 for the past 2 months due to my father’s illness) and am not as far along as I’d hoped to be, so I’d like to ask ‘are there such mountains in chemistry, generally agreed on by everyone’ without any idea whether an answer even exists.
  35. barney Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 2:13 pm I am a big dummy (see #29 & #30). Always double check your sources, kids. And don’t post when you should be writing an exam and there’s a baby in the office.Also, ditto Excimer (#5) on Dave Collum. I would know very little organic chemistry if it weren’t for his grad classes. Also, my wife got her Ph.D. with him and when I went to Cornell to give a seminar last spring, Coates finished my introduction by mentioning the new baby and Collum piped up with a, “Yeah–he knocked up my old grad student.” It was a priceless moment.
  36. barney Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 2:35 pm …and I just remembered that odds are good that Dave will read this. Oh well, it’s all true.
  37. Wavefunction Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 2:38 pm I can think of one mountain Retread; design a molecule or a supermolecule that has the effiiency and turnover of any reasonably good enzyme.
  38. Chuck Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 2:42 pm A great day for surface chemistry and catalysis, and for chemists winning the chemistry prize. But, it is very hard to understand why Gabor Somorjai was not a co-recepient…
  39. rnachen Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 2:56 pm politics
  40. eugene Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 4:51 pm Yes, Dave Collum lacks tact, but he lacks it very tactically. I bet it’s a cold and calculated lack of tact that is kept in check by his Machiavellian intellect. Nonetheless, it makes him quite a good speaker and I guarantee you won’t fall asleep at one of his seminars. Unless you’re narcoleptic.I don’t think he’ll get a nobel prize though. Sorry.
  41. Wavefunction Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 5:04 pm Dave Collum:PhD, Columbia University, 1980MPhil, Columbia University, 1980

    MA, Columbia University, 1978

    BS, Cornell University, 1977

    His record is incredible. I heard some of his classmates not surprisingly were still finishing up their PhD. when he came back as an assistant professor.

  42. Richie FH Kluasner Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 5:31 pm Why does anyone think Schreiber and Schultz will get a Nobel for anything they have done so far…besides their former students?Chemical Biology has been around for decades! Ever hear of the Journal of Biological Chemistry??? It’s a sexier name, but perhaps naming fields should qualify one for the Literature prize, let’s call it poetry.As for contributions both have pioneered the super research mega-group (again, not novel) and they spend many many millions more than 90% of groups with a result for dollar return below average. How about dividing their citations by either hoards of students or dollars gotten in dubious ways…..well, I cant complain with my Infinity Pharm stock in hand while tax dollars screen for drugs for yeast we can use the libraries to screen for big bucks, I mean drugs. Pete should have cut me a deal for GNF.
  43. Shocked Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 5:34 pm I think everybody within the surface science community was absolutely stunned this morning that Somorjai did not take a share of the prize. His work was at least as original, innovative, and foundational to the field. It is a rare thing for the Nobel Prize to be awarded for developing a field as a whole, and to award this prize to one man was pitiful. They must really NOT want to give Berkeley another Nobel Laureate.
  44. SomorjaiFan Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 5:39 pm That was what was shocking. If it had been given for a particular achievement of Ertl’s, then it would have been ok. But the Nobel citation made it clear that the Prize was honouring the field as much as any specific achievements. In such a case, Somorjai’s exclusion is inexcusable.
  45. somorjai student Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 5:56 pm haven’t talked to gabor about it, but all his grad students are shocked. we knew he didn’t win it when there weren’t any newsvans our front this morning, but we’re all surprised that it was in the field yet wasn’t shared with gabor.congratulations to ertl though. it’s nice to see the field get some recognition, although of course we somorjai students wish it was shared both for gabor’s sake and, on the selfish side, because we thought it would be really fun to experience the hurricane of a nobel prize getting awarded to our adviser. I mean, that has got to be some fun, right?
  46. Shrug Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 6:48 pm Since Paul is off trying to graduate (eventually), I’ll throw out an assertion that I think might be fun to discuss (I frankly believe this 100%):The Nobel Prize should completely lose its relevance as an award meant to recognize the most important achievements in the field of chemistry.
  47. Wavefunction Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 6:59 pm As Richard Feynman said, he just found the whole idea of someone sitting up there in the Nobel committee trying to decide whose work is “Nobel enough” very high-handed. I completely agree with him but infortunately, the prize is what we as a society have made it out to be, and we have to live with its trappings of conferring fame and otherwise. It’s a curse that’s here to stay…
  48. Ψ*Ψ Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 7:19 pm While that’s a good point, I’m still more interested in who gets a Nobel than who gets an Oscar.…I guess that just makes me a nerd.
  49. Wavefunction Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 7:25 pm I am even more interested in who gets the Darwin Awards. I second, in fact third, the point about the Oscars though.
  50. Surface Science Community Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 7:38 pm We like to thank both Ertl and Somorjai for their pioneering works in surface science. This solo prize sits on par with Gandhi not winning the Peace Prize and Gore not winning the 2000 elections.
  51. Anonymous Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 7:52 pm It is too bad that it did not match the sense and logic of a blogger eventually- what a nice feeling would it have been for everybody had it been shared by a few ( those who really contributed) than handing it to one. Good work, Paul.
  52. Anonymous Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 9:20 pm barney, you still have those big natty dreads?do you remember when someone pasted the outside of dave collum’s office windows with ‘art’?
  53. metallabenzeneer Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 11:03 pm Anybody hear? Jacobsen is moving to MIT.
  54. excimer Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 11:57 pm #52 pics plz. for both.
  55. Anonymous Says:
    October 11th, 2007 at 12:25 am #53
    Yes, it is true. I think it was determined some months ago.
  56. Nick Says:
    October 11th, 2007 at 2:09 am #53/54
    Why? I never quite understand these moves where a major player at a top school moves sideways to a school of equal stature. Its a pain in the butt to move labs, so its gotta be more than $$$, right? In the recent past we have had MacMillan from Caltech to Princeton (and Berkeley to Caltech), Peters from Caltech to MIT, and a few more than I am too knackered to think of right now. Whitesides, Myers, Evans, Holm, and Imperialli are some of the others who did this in the past. Maybe its a “grass is greener” thing. Besides, I thought Jacobsen was doing fine at CNN…..
  57. Klug Says:
    October 11th, 2007 at 2:38 am #56Thank God I wasn’t the only one who saw that resemblance.
  58. barney Says:
    October 11th, 2007 at 10:02 am Anon #52, I don’t remember the art on Dave’s office door, but I think I still have at least a few of the not-so-natty dreads in a zip-lock bag somewhere (unless the mice have gotten to them).And if there are photos, I would love to see them too–this was back when cameras still had film and laptops were at least a few inches thick.
  59. Wavefunction Says:
    October 11th, 2007 at 11:55 am “Jacobsen was doing fine at CNN…”I hope you are talking about Anderson Cooper who was separated from his brother Eric at birth. :P
  60. Darksyde Says:
    October 11th, 2007 at 2:06 pm Yeah I always thought that Jacobsen looked like anderson cooper. And then I started worrying because I’ve got a mancrush on cooper.#47, I’ve been saying this for years! The video is here:

    However, I still get sucked into the excitement and celebrity of it all. My hypocrisy makes me sick.

  61. Anonymous Says:
    October 11th, 2007 at 10:35 pm No pics Barney, sorry. Someone plastered Dave’s window (from the outside) with questionable photos after he made a dumb comment in class that offended at least one person. I think the person must have repelled off the roof to pull it off. It was classic.Do you keep in touch with Pete Willis? Didn’t you guys used to hang out?
  62. Anonymous Says:
    October 11th, 2007 at 10:47 pm paul: my christmas gift to you:…..8a2f/zoom/
  63. Richard Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 12:06 am One of the major reasons big names make these lateral moves is because of student recruitment. Jacobsen is absolutely great, but compared to some of the organic giants at Harvard, even he is a runner-up on people’s wishlists. At MIT he would be one of the most exciting organic/organometallic groups, and is likely to get a good number of the best hands.
  64. Chemistry Nobel: Reactions on solid surfaces « Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 12:27 am […] Who got passed over?  ChemBank […]
  65. accurate Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 5:39 am…..ates/2007/
  66. Darksyde Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 5:41 am Now margaret thatcher will never win the nobel prize in chemistry!
  67. accurate Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 5:50 am :-)
  68. Lightsyde Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 5:56 am Goddamnit, hearing the Gore news, I couldn’t sleep. There’s something the readers of chembark, as knowledgeable chemists, should know. Global warming is not caused by carbon dioxide. It is caused by water vapor emissions. Water is the primary contributor to thermal absorption in the atmosphere. Any sophomore organic chemist knows that water absorbs IR about 10000 times better than carbon dioxide, which is why you mull your salt plates with nujol instead of water, and why femtosectond IR spectroscopy in water is impossible unless you deuterium label your molecules.Furthermore, while carbon dioxide only takes about 0.1 mol percent of the atmosphere, water takes up about 1~6% depending on how recently G_d took a piss. Irrigation releases approximately one atmosphere’s worth of water per year, spread out over 360 days (on average) results in a steady-state increase about one tenth that of carbon dioxide. So you can imagine that the irrigation contribution to global warming alone overshadows that of carbon dioxide.High-altitude plane flights, which release water in the a slow-to-recirculate region of the atmosphere, compound the problem, especially as high altitude clouds do not generate albedo in the way that low altitude ones do. Anyways, you shouldn’t believe this cloud reflection bullshit, because that only takes into account energy absorption in the visible range (clouds are not white in the IR).

    Be careful, this information is dangerous, and the powerful farm lobby, which crosses all sides of legislative aisles around the world, does not want you to know this.

  69. Retread Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 6:55 am Given Gore’s win, I predict that the next medicine Nobel will go to a chiropracter. Near where we live in Massachusetts there is a park with dinosaur tracks embedded in petrified mud. Strangely, no SUV tracks have been found next to them. It’s the 60s all over again — if you believe it strongly enough it’s true. Touching to see such faith in a secular world.
  70. Retread Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 8:35 am I neglected to mention that the dinosaurs were walking in a tropical swamp in what later became central Massachusetts.
  71. Shrug Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 9:02 am #63 (Richard):An interesting theory, but not applicable in Jacobsen’s case. He was regularly at the top of a larger number of students’ wish-lists than could actually fit in his lab.
  72. not excimer Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 9:04 am Gore’s the first person to win a Nobel Peace Prize AND host Saturday Night Live. Al Gore for president. Of the Universe.I’m glad he won. Why? Because it’s going to piss a lot of people off. And I’m pretty okay with that.
  73. Paul Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 1:46 pm Interesting/bizzare:…..gD8S6A0TO0
  74. Wavefunction Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 1:48 pm It’s going to piss a lot of people off and that’s going to be highly entertaining. I can’t wait to hear Fox News trying to discredit him.Lightysyde: We all know that water vapour absorbs a lot of IR, but warming is not a consequence of there being a lot of water vapour, it’s what drives all that vapour. It’s a function not an effect of temperature. See for example:
  75. Wavefunction Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 1:51 pm I guess people might want to move away from Harvard simply because at Harvard there are too many lions whereas at other places they may be the only lion which would be kind of nice for them. Mainly a prestige issue but as was mentioned above also possibly better access to resources and students.
  76. Lightsyde Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 2:07 pm Wavefunction:I’m glad that you are G_d and are 100% sure you know what are the dependent variables and independent variables. I feel like a seasoned economist talking to an upstart freshman physicist who’s trying to explain to me that demand drives supply.
  77. Lightsyde Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 2:19 pm You should also know that the notion that water vapor concentration is a function of temperature is a simplification that climate simulations use to make everything work out. Surprise, surprise, if you simplify the biggest variable, you make the second biggest variable the most prominent.For G_d’s sake, you know that there are days where it’s 40 degrees out, and the humidity is 100% and other days where it’s 40 degrees and bone-dry. If you think the increased temperatures are directly related to increased humidity, then explain why it’s always warmer after it snows.
  78. excimer Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 2:48 pm Reading this makes me wonder how many of these people have science backgrounds. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the ones who call global warming pseudoscience (and there are several)… aren’t scientists. This is not to say that there aren’t scientists who are skeptical of global warming, but there is undoubtedly a political divide between those who think global warming is real and those who don’t. And Gore is right; this isn’t a political matter- it’s a moral and scientific one. And it’s the deniers who are turning it from a moral and scientific matter into a political one, where facts and conclusions are replaced by truthiness and dogma, and the once proud tradition of skepticism had turned into a politically correct version of saying “everything you say is bullshit and absolutely nothing is going to change my mind.”And Gore winning the Peace Prize is going to piss off those so-called “skeptics,” the ones who have already made their decision, and I’m very happy about that.
  79. excimer Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 2:51 pm You should also know that the notion that water vapor concentration is a function of temperature is a simplification that climate simulations use to make everything work out.Yes, my p-chem textbook and all the so-called “science” within was developed solely to make climatologists’ lives easier and to support their wily, wily political agendas. VAPOR PRESSURE IS A LIE 9/11 WAS AN INSIDE JOB NEW WORLD ORDER NEW WORLD ORDER
  80. Darksyde Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 3:31 pm your p-chem book is correct, but that’s an equilibrium phenomenon, assuming that your system has saturated vapor pressure. This is no the case with weather, which is a kinetic phenomenon. Life on earth would be miserable if it were 100% humidity all the time.
  81. TWYI Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 3:34 pm I want some of what the Nobel commitee were smoking this year.That has to be some strong stuff
  82. excimer Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 3:44 pm darksyde, is lightsyde your darkside?
  83. TheEdge Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 3:48 pm Americans (along with most other people in the world) tend to be very short-sighted and selfish people. Gore got us talking about an issue that goes well beyond a single person or a single country, an issue that is going to take the global community years to truely come to grips with and find a solution to, an issue that touches on security and the energy crisis in ways that the average guy on the street never would have thought of or heard of if not for Gore. We probably don’t fully understand what’s causing the climate shift, but not trying to fix what we can is like not bailing out the sinking ship just because you don’t know where all the holes in the hull are. It was probably too early to award him the nobel prize. They probably should have waited 10 years to see if his work helps. I’m not arguing that. But the world needed a Lorax and Al Gore was the man who stepped up to do the job, so he should be commended for that.
  84. Lightsyde Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 4:04 pm Duh, but I don’t want the farm lobby to come after be, so keep it on the d/l.
  85. Lightsyde Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 4:07 pm “Gore got us talking about an issue that goes well beyond a single person or a single country, an issue that is going to take the global community years to truely come to grips with and find a solution to, an issue that touches on security and the energy crisis in ways that the average guy on the street never would have thought of or heard of if not for Gore. We probably don’t fully understand what’s causing the climate shift, but not trying to fix what we can is like not bailing out the sinking ship just because you don’t know where all the holes in the hull are.”Talk is cheap. Can someone give me a nobel prize in chemistry for telling E.J. Corey to tell Woodward about electrocyclic reactions?
  86. Darksyde Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 4:12 pm Excimer:“darksyde, is lightsyde your darkside?”Is that the best you could do? I was hoping for a rebuttal.
  87. Herman Blume Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 4:24 pm I would like to start next years predictions for the nobel prize:Medicine: Jose Canseco and Marion Jones for their “exquisite demonstrations of hormones in human athletic performance (and it is unheard-of to award two nobel prizes to the same person in the same year)”Physics: George Whitesides, Ralph Nuzzo, and David Allara; citation: “we have been pushing physicists on the chemistry committee for decades and its about time we reciprocate”

    Chemistry: Albert Gore for “his contribution to the awareness of climate change”

    Peace: Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, and Paul Wolfowitz for “their comlex understanding that offensive combat and the war on terror create a more peaceful and safer world (and it is unheard-of to award the same nobel prize to the same person in consecutive years)”

    Economics: Zimbabwe for “their stead-fast belief that continuously printing money does not contribute to inflation” (and we were told that Al Gore would be winning the Chemistry prize and couldn’t give him the Economics prize THIS year;) ).

    The nobel people have “jumped the shark”.


  88. excimer Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 4:27 pm Darksyde,Wavefunction (#74) gave a perfectly fine rebuttal of your point which you ignored. Yes, the system I was referring to is in equilibrium (in the simple, p-chem textbook sense), but it’s still reasonable to say that the vapor pressure of water is a function of temperature. It is intuitive that you cannot increase the amount of water vapor beyond a certain point, beyond which there is a phase change (ie. rain). Even if we are talking about kinetic effects, I don’t see how the water vapor argument makes sense at all. Does water vapor contribute? Yes, but it, like natural CO2 emission, has balances to keep warming and cooling consistent.
  89. Wavefunction Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 4:33 pm It’s not just the talk. It’s the awareness raising which in this case is as important as ever because only collective effects composed of small actions are going to help solve the problem.
    About the water vapour phenomenon, it’s true that it’s an equilibrium phenomenon, but the way I see it, if there’s too much water vapour in the atmosphere, it will simply come down as rain. In fact, the fact that evaporation and condensation are equilibrium phenomena is exactly the reason why water vapour cannot be considered a climate forcing. Just as it would come out as rain when it becomes excessive, it will get into the atmosphere when the atmosphere becomes deficient in it. CO2 on the other hand is a climate forcing as is made clear in the IPCC.
  90. Wavefunction Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 4:36 pm Excimer just made this clear too.
  91. Lightsyde Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 5:06 pm it’s true that it only can increase so far but if you have an overall increase in average humidity on all the days when it’s not 100% this would be masked by simplistic simulations.Firstly, most water vapor emissions do not magically turn off when it rains. So importantly two questions should be asked: Are we spending more days at 100% humidity? And is the net average humidity on the increase? So if you’re increasing the rate at which you add water in obviously you will spend more time at higher humidities. Finally, depending on where emissions occur, the recycling rate of water can be drastically different. Low altitude water tends to drop back down rapidly, but high altitude water can linger fro very long times.Ironically, many climate simulations say that CO2 triggers a water feedback loop. I.E. CO2 increases temperature that increases humidity that increases temperature.
  92. Herman Blume Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 5:49 pm And the Literature Prize: Thomas Pynchon; nothing needs to be said…herman
  93. Shrug Says:
    October 12th, 2007 at 7:45 pm I think that the Nobel committee should award the literature prize exclusively to reclusive authors to see if they’d come out of hiding to accept it. Though Pynchon *did* appear on the Simpsons, so maybe he doesn’t count anymore?
  94. ZAL Says:
    October 13th, 2007 at 5:33 am I think you all got it wrong: Al Gore won the prize for having invented the Internet
  95. Lightsyde Says:
    October 13th, 2007 at 2:31 pm ZAL: -3 points for that party foul. That joke is SO 1990.
  96. ZAL Says:
    October 13th, 2007 at 5:08 pm Lightside: Come on! You know, I’m on the other side of the atlantic, and it takes some time for a joke to cross the ocean (despite Al Gore’s internet), so -3 is definitely too harsh. Let’s settle for a -1 and move on.
  97. Shrug Says:
    October 13th, 2007 at 5:22 pm -3 points to Lightsyde for erroneously identifying that joke with 1990, rather than 2000!
  98. excimer Says:
    October 13th, 2007 at 6:58 pm I hope Pynchon doesn’t win for literature. His crap is absolutely unreadable, or at least Crying of Lot 49 and Gravity’s Rainbow (read: the two books he’s really know for) were.
  99. Lightsyde Says:
    October 13th, 2007 at 9:34 pm Shrug: You got trolled.
  100. Lightsyde Says:
    October 13th, 2007 at 9:36 pm Crying of lot 49 and Mason and Dixon are amazing. I’m working my way through V.. Gravity’s rainbow is unreadable, and the organic chemistry therein is bad besides.
  101. retread Says:
    October 14th, 2007 at 8:16 am Pynchon should get the Nobel just for the two word phrase “newage mindbarf” which appears in one of his novels.
  102. Wolf Says:
    October 14th, 2007 at 9:48 pm A troll is someone who tells the truth.
  103. Shrug Says:
    October 14th, 2007 at 10:14 pm Lightsyde: I’m not at all sure what that means. Crackers!
  104. Lightsyde Says:
    October 15th, 2007 at 6:13 am Good one, Wolf. I came about this |_| close to taking your bait.
  105. Jose Says:
    October 15th, 2007 at 5:07 pm Pynchon is God. Go forth and read “GR.” Really. You’ll like it!
  106. Dave Says:
    October 19th, 2007 at 4:22 pm Collum? Machiavellian? “Unscrupulous intellect?” You guys are tough. BTW-Collum didn’t say something inappropriate in class to get the window art. It was a joke told to a couple of grad students. That is not to say, however, that he isn’t a fountain of inappropriate comments.BTW-Hi Barney. A colleague sent me this link. I love blogs, just not chemistry blogs.
  107. Anonymous Says:
    October 23rd, 2007 at 11:21 pm Dave Collum just set the record for the most rapid shutdown of a conversation on a blog.
  108. Lightsyde Says:
    October 25th, 2007 at 4:26 pm Collum, you are the man. I attended a lecture of yours once and was floored by your “keep-it-real”ness and I believe you’ve changed my graduate career. It’s going to take an extra year, but I’ll be a better person for it. It’s a trade I can live with.Anonymous: WTF? Look at — it was four days since anyone said anything, Collum notwithstanding. Perhaps Chembark has jumped the shark.
  109. Lightsyde Says:
    November 1st, 2007 at 1:56 pm Leslie Orgel has died, so please strike him from the odds lists in the future.
  110. W Says:
    December 13th, 2007 at 6:35 pm There are answers missing from Eugene or GWM why they did not make it. I admit however that this is comment No. 110 and as such does not count.
  111. Org Chem Says:
    December 29th, 2007 at 10:37 pm Hello everybody,Today is my final day at Scripps. I was a post-doc in Peter Schultz lab in
    the chemistry department. I want to tell you one of the
    strangest things I faced in my scientific career.In one of our group meetings (called mini-meetings in Schultz lab) during
    the beginning of my post-doc in 2002 Sheng Ding (then a
    PhD student) came up with an idea to synthesize PCR-based siRNAs
    (short-interfering RNA) at a significantly less cost of $500,000.
    After listening to his idea which was jointly presented by Lianxing Zheng,
    a then post doc, I said in front of everybody that “I
    guarantee that this approach will not work.”

    Well, I was not liked by Pete for saying that and he agreed to synthesize
    the library anyway for 8000 human genes (It actually was
    produced at a cost in the range of $150,000). The paper was published in
    PNAS (Title: An approach to genomewide screens of
    expressed small interfering RNAs in mammalian cells; Lianxing Zheng, Jun
    Liu, Sergei Batalov, Demin Zhou, Anthony Orth, Sheng
    Ding , and Peter G. Schultz: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Jan
    6;101(1):135-40.). Lianxing Zheng was the first author, while
    Sheng Ding and Peter Schultz were the corresponding authors. During this
    time Sheng Ding has become a faculty member of the
    Scripps chemistry department and apparently this was his first paper as an
    independent faculty.

    Many people in the lab were trying to use this library, including me for
    two different screens, but unfortunately nobody could
    reproduce their primary screen results. Three months after the publication
    of the paper Lianxing Zheng (the first author) said in
    a mini-meeting that the PCR-based siRNA library DOES NOT works and Pete
    made himself a FOOL.

    Most strangely, Pete instead of doing something about the paper got
    extremely annoyed with me and told me one time that if I speak
    about it I wouldn’t get his support for anything. I was harassed so bad
    that my choice was either to leave the lab then and loose
    two years of work and a paper (on which Pete started giving nasty,
    sometimes abusive comments) or take everything and keep quite
    and get a job and then leave. I have got a job now and been fired four days
    before my actual ending date because of not showing-up
    for meeting with Pete Schultz. Well, I am least interested to talk to him
    because I have no respect. I consider him the most
    dishonest scientist and the lowest human being I have come across in my
    life. I am very happy that I am fired, because under no
    circumstances I will support such science and his behavior.

    As my friend XXXX told me that nobody will trust me. Well, I know that.
    Pete will come with his own version. But just ask the
    following questions:

    1. What was the reason Sheng Ding started looking for jobs one year after
    getting the faculty position here? I believe he had
    good interviews but then stayed no at Scripps. Then what was the reason
    to look for jobs at the first place (may be Pete
    thought that he scarred me enough and I am dependent on him and I will
    not speak).
    2. Why Pete have Lianxing a bad reference for a job to Novartis. His one
    line was something like “he worked hard without knowing
    what he is doing”. I come to know this from Lianxing. I must mention
    that on Pete’s back Lianxing told a number of times that
    the library does not work and Pete is trying to hide it. (Four years
    after publication notbody in the lab is using it.)
    3. Why ZZZ ZZZZ (the technician who PCRed the mouse library, this was
    synthesized after the human library) got fired.
    4. Why Pete forced me to publish my cell cycle screen using another siRNA
    library into PNAS in return to transfer my H1B visa.

    Last but the most important thing is that this is not a general practice in
    this lab and most of the people I the lab are very
    hard working, good and honest scientist.

  112. W Says:
    December 30th, 2007 at 7:45 pm you should listen more to Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, then your Chinese accident would come out, stay where you arebut finally, if you are American, you are not unguilty
  113. bacon Says:
    January 3rd, 2008 at 3:29 pm t
  114. Anonymous Says:
    February 18th, 2008 at 11:01 am It was nice 2 see all the effort6 but thats true u all r getting jealous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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