The Sceptical Chymist | ACS: Philadelphia 2008 – Love Train

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The ACS meeting is over, so I guess it’s time for me to climb aboard the love train and head for home. Oh, alright then, it’ll be a cramped flight to the UK, I was just trying to squeeze in a reference to the Philly sound before I left.

But before I go, here are a few bits and pieces from the meeting that made me think, smile, or both. A lot of them seem to involve Barry Sharpless.

Some quotes:

“A man in California just won the Nobel prize for mixing paint and wine.” – Headline in a Los Angeles newspaper following Barry Sharpless’s Nobel win.

“This lovely picture of Edinburgh is one that I took recently – from the internet.” – Dave Leigh

“You say this was done with a burette? I could do better with a graduated cylinder.” – Comment from William Crowell on a young John Roberts’ titration technique.

“Enzymes are swirly things, they’re spaghetti monsters.” – Barry Sharpless. Surely not a reference to the cult of the spaghetti monster?

Things I learnt at the meeting:

Some chemistry sets 77 years ago included recipes for gunpowder.

‘Detartrated’ is the longest single-word palindrome in the English language, according to Barry Sharpless. (To detartrate means to remove the tartrate from wine.)

The spell-check program on my laptop corrects ‘aldehydes’ to ‘baldheads’.

Other things that made me smile:

Barry Sharpless’s impression of an olefin.

That’s all for now, I’m heading for home sweet home.


Andrew Mitchinson (Senior Editor, Nature)

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