Archive for the ‘Biochemistry’ Category

Better Drinking Through Chemistry

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Hey, look what the American Chemical Society produced for St. Paddy’s Day: it’s a tutorial on the chemistry of alcohol, including its effects on your body and how your body attempts to rid itself of the poison.


Uh oh, but there’s a WWWTP? in there. If you pause at the 2:45 mark, you can see that they flubbed the structure of “amyl alcohol”:



While there are several isomers of amyl alcohol, instead of drawing one of those, the ACS has shown the structure for isoamyl acetate (commonly known as banana oil). When banana oil is dilute, it kind of smells like Juicy Fruit bubble gum. In concentrated form, it smells really gross. I know, because I made it in 6th period orgo lab in high school and the people around me in 7th period religion paid the price.

But good effort, ACS! This is exactly the sort of info we (as chemists) should be communicating to the People. It’s news they can use. Of course, in the future, try to get the structures right! (And for the record, you also misspelled “judgment” at 0:49. Boo.)

H/T to Kim the Magnificent for the tip.

One Way for a Journal to Increase Its Web Traffic

Monday, March 18th, 2013

My friend Roger was searching for—well, I don’t know what he was searching for, but this is what he found:


That is from the Web site for the Biochemical Journal, which the editors have decided to call “BJ Central”. There’s also “BJ Mobile” among a group of other specialized BJ sites. I particularly enjoy the menu option labeled “Submit to BJ”.

This set of abbreviations is much less subtle than the two previous front-runners on the puerility scale, PNAS and Anal. Chem. Are the editors really that oblivious?

What’s Your Favorite Phosphate Polymer?

Friday, February 9th, 2007

I realize that posting a picture of an old bottle is not the most original idea for a blog post, but I can’t resist. I recently came across the following reagent in our bioroom:

That’s a whole kilogram of white, powdery RNA. Countless yeast cells gave their lives so that their nucelic acids could hydrolyze in our stockroom. The bottle is quite possibly a relic of my boss’s tenure at MIT (pre-1982). This particular RNA has an associated CAS number (63231-63-0), and the MSDS says it has a shelf life of three years. Oh well. I used it anyway, because I’m cheap and impatient.

I’m interested in finding a commercially-available polymer that contains phosphate. Is there anything besides RNA, DNA, and polyphosphates that I don’t know about? Any help is appreciated.