The Sceptical Chymist | Credit crunching

Published in Chemistry

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It seems like we’ve had endless headlines screaming about the collapsing world economy. Scary times for everyone. If you’re one of the many chemists who has been made redundant recently in the ‘restructuring’ of big pharma (or indeed if you’ve been made redundant from any sector), hang on in there. I know exactly what it’s like – I won’t offer any trite homilies, especially when the job market looks so bleak, but I wish you luck for the future.

On a less personal note, it seems that the credit crunch is affecting research in other, less obvious ways. I was talking to a friend recently, and he commented that his company is having difficulty finding reliable supplies of acetonitrile. He told me that, apparently, one of the biggest uses of acetonitrile is for making certain car parts. But in the current economic climate, no one is buying cars, and so the demand for car parts has evaporated. You might think this would create a glut of acetonitrile – but acetonitrile manufacturers have realized that the bottom has dropped out of their market, so they’ve stopped making it. I don’t think the world is about to run out of this solvent, but it’s another example of how nothing seems certain anymore.

Have any of you experienced other unexpected side-effects from the economic crisis?


Andrew Mitchinson (Senior Editor, Nature)

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