The Sceptical Chymist | Blogroll: Numerous nitrogens

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


Kevlar-suit-wearing synthetic chemists and the art of nomenclature.

Some interesting nitrogen-based chemistry featured in the chemical blogosphere in 2012. Several bloggers commented on a peculiar (and perhaps somewhat terrifying) compound containing 10 nitrogens in a row, reported in Inorganic Chemistry. David Perrey at Chemical Space wrote, “The graphical abstract tells the story eloquently: the structure with a back-drop of broken lab equipment,” and muses “inadvertent explosions is a lovely expression”.

A picture of a Klapötke group member working with these materials was posted on the blog Reactions from Last Night — “notice the full Kevlar suit he’s wearing” notes the caption! There are strict rules about who can do what in the group; undergraduates don’t handle explosives, masters students only work with known compounds, and PhD students are the ones who “make and characterize anything novel”.

At the other extreme, in a post on ‘Handheld chemistry’ over at The Culture of Chemistry, Michelle Francl-Donnay advises the reader to “wash those hands” if you are going to repeat an experiment described in a 1937 chemistry-kit manual for “making ammonia in your hand,” by mixing calcium oxide and ammonium chloride with your fingers. Francl-Donnay further admits to “using Hess’ law for fun,” but follows with a serious calculation on the heat of formation for the reaction: “–635 kJ […] for about a tablespoon of material,” to be precise.

And finally, at The Heterocyclist blog, dipolar-cycloaddition veteran Will Pearson ponders over an apparent mix-up between nitrogen imines and ylides in the title of a paper in Angewandte Chemie International Edition and throws out a “What am I missing here?” Judging by the lack of objectors so far — nothing.

Written by Fredrik von Kieseritzky, who blogs as DrFreddy at


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

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