oh come on – i always think it’s such a sham/fake when bosses who are clearly not doing any stuff in the lab are wearing glasses. all i’m seeing are empty hoods with squeeze bottles in them – are safety glasses actually needed? i think not. i think doing blanket “always wear safety stuff” is just as bad as never wearing it. it causes the users to falsely think they are safe and not be actively thinking about what they are around and actually protected from. safety is a balance of both being protected physically (by wearing PPE) and mentally (thinking and making educated decisions about what you are around).
@anonon: I disagree. You need to put glasses on as soon as you enter any lab space. The cost of time and effort is minimal, even if the risk of hazard is low. Furthermore, Nocera was running experiments in the lab, including the generation of hydrogen gas. I think this is a pretty clear case where you should be expected to wear safety glasses, at a minimum.
Finally, Nocera should have worn glasses to set a good example. When you are the manager of a lab, what are you telling your subordinates when you can’t be bothered to follow the department’s safety rules?
@Paul: I don’t buy your first argument about wearing goggles. Given the conditions and scale of the experiment he was running, I don’t think the generation of hydrogen gas presents any level of danger which necessitates goggles.
I think it’s more convincing to argue that safety protocol should be enforced to minimize long term risk.
If I were generating hydrogen gas and collecting it a closed container, I would want to have eye protection on, regardless of whether or not I was in a lab and regardless of how much hydrogen I intended to synthesize.
I really like Nocera’s research and don’t mind a little bit of oversell to the public. In fact, I think a *little* oversell is good for making the point that water splitting is a technology with real potential. That said, five years does seem very optimistic, and the host did well to express skepticism.
Aside from the lack of PPE, the one thing from the interview that kind of rubbed me the wrong way was when Nocera said “my catalyst”. That catalyst exists not just due to Nocera’s ideas, but from the ideas and effort of his students with help from a large body of knowledge from prior research. I have always been in lab’s where the PI talked about the work in his lab using “we” and liberally gave credit to the people in the trenches. I have grown to expect similar behavior from all scientists, and I wince at hearing (or using) the word “I” in talks.
Of course, we don’t know what the BBC cut from the interview.
I had dinner with Nocera about 2 months ago with a bunch of other undergrads, and he talked pretty extensively about how he feels a need to be the salesman for this field. Essentially, he said he thinks it’ll help to have a figurehead who spans the academic/research world with the policy/implementation world (thus why he’s trying to start up an Energy Initiative with HBS). I think him saying “my catalyst” is just along those same lines– if the non-scientists out there can just think of Dan Nocera when they think of water splitting, it makes it easier to get the point across.
“That catalyst exists not just due to Nocera’s ideas, but from the ideas and effort of his students with help from a large body of knowledge from prior research.”
Nah, it probably exists from neither of those things, but due to some random, stupid thing a student tried. Like throwing cobalt salts into water to see what happens and to tell the boss that they tried something before the weekly one on one meeting so it didn’t look like they were playing Fallout 3 all past week on the lab computer. I doubt at the time anyone would have said: “Why, I just have this idea that this cobalt phosphate molecule will be an excellent water splitting catalyst! Maybe it will make some multi-redox equivalents cluster once in solution! Let’s put some effort into it.”
Like it or not, Nocera is about the best public face of chemistry we have at this point in time. He’s articulate, reasonably young, and interesting to listen to. Who else do we have? In what venues do *they* appear?