This blog is my attempt to reconnect with the world of chemistry. I have a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry and make a living doing research for a large company in Michigan. As times have changed, that company has changed its focus and I no longer have as much chance to do the basic, fundamental research which I most enjoy. Through this blog, I am hoping to recapture the magic which I felt during my graduate (and undergraduate) days in college. Expect topics on chemistry and alchemy along with some non-chemistry related items which I think might be interesting.

"The chymists are a strange class of mortals, impelled by an almost insane impulse to seek their pleasure among smoke and vapour, soot and flame, poisons and poverty; yet among all these evils I seem to live so sweetly that may I die if I would change places with the Persian King."

Johann Joachim Becher (phlogistonist)
Acta Laboratorii Chymica Monacensis, seu Physica Subterranea, (1669).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cold Season

Recovering from a cold today, so I’ll keep it short.

First, I spent several minutes looking through our medicine closet today, trying to find a simple cough medicine. Unfortunately, due to market forces, it is getting harder and harder to find one that does not also contain antihistamines, decongestants, or pain relievers. The best I could do was a combination cough suppressant and expectorant ("to make your coughs more productive!"). Why do they need to make my cough more productive if their medicine is supposed to stop my cough in the first place? Have they that little faith in their product?

Second, I would like to recommend the book “Oxygen: The Molecule that Made the World” by Nick Lane. The book discusses the role of oxygen during the last 4 billion years on Earth, including its effect on both planetary chemistry and the development of life. It’s a great read, and includes both currently accepted ideas as well as less accepted hypotheses. The author may spend a little too much time discussing oxygen’s role in aging in the later stages of the book, but it was still hard to put down. It is not a new book (it was written in 2004) and I actually read it last year, but I highly recommend it.

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