The Sceptical Chymist | Blogroll: Digital discourse

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Editor’s note: As we continue to invite bloggers out there in the wild to compose our monthly Blogroll column, Brandon Findlay penned the July 2013 column.


Chemists chat, share snippets of research, and try to out-draw each other during #RealTimeChem week.

Are you connected? The rise of smartphones and social networks is blurring the line between conference and lab, allowing chemists to share and discuss their discoveries in real time. In April, students, postdocs, industrial chemists and professors were in full presentation mode, sharing their research struggles and triumphs in #RealTimeChem week. Doctor Galactic curated the @RealTimeChem twitter feed and picked his favourite tweets each day. Meanwhile, JessTheChemist kept tabs on the blog posts, providing a quick summary for each. All told, around 700 people took part, and Mark Borkum built the interactions into a beautiful illustration (png file).

As the week progressed, contributions ranged from Andrew Bissette‘s serious take on classic research papers to Vittorio Saggiomo‘s light-hearted music video, with several ancillary hashtags gaining popularity. On Thursday, JessTheChemist threw down the gauntlet, challenging her fellow chemists to tweet their hand-drawn structures under #FreeHandRings. From simple six-membered rings came ever more elaborate structures, until See Arr Oh squashed the competition with a beautifully crafted maitotoxin.

No two hand-drawn structures are alike, as shown in an earlier post on the Baran group blog, Open Flask. Polling the lab, Dane Holte discovered that not only did his labmates have a preferred double-bond arrangement (the two Kekulé variants were far more popular than the inner-ring Thiele model), but that drawing the hexagon was quite contentious. The most popular line order was used by only 5/25 chemists, with eleven other options receiving at least one vote.

Written by Brandon Findlay, who blogs at


[As mentioned in this post, we’re posting the monthly blogroll column here on the Sceptical Chymist. This is the July 2013 article]

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