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).

Friday, April 17, 2009

Miscellaneous Friday

I was temporarily unemployed for a couple of months at the end of last year, but I never considered expressing my disappointment in the same manner as this unemployed chemist. I cannot imagine this sort of thing looking good on a resume, but I’ve been wrong before.
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Now I need to rant a bit.

Yesterday, I needed to download a software driver for a National Instruments GPIB interface card from the company’s website. It should have been a quick 50K download at most, requiring only about a minute of my “valuable” time. Annoyingly, the entire process took 45 minutes -- time that could have been better spent searching the Web for more antics by unemployed chemists. First, the website required me to register before downloading the file. Swine! I already paid for the hardware! Forcing me to register just to download the accompanying software is sooooooo last millennium. Check out your competitors’ web sites. And what’s with all the “required” questions? I can understand asking for my email address so I can be spammed, but do you really need the name of my firstborn?

After being granted access to the download page, I discovered the “driver” file was over 108MB. WTF??? Are they sending an operating system along with the driver? Please: make non-essential utilities a separate download. If I had been downloading this from home, it would have not been that big a deal, but my company’s firewall insisted on scanning the entire 108MB file for porn and viruses, and the scanner is not very fast.

Anyway, I feel better now.
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Our governor here in Michigan has been desperately trying to make the state less reliant on the automotive industry. For the past few years, she’s been pushing to make Michigan the biodiesel capital of the world. Last year, she was promoting solar cell technology, partly since we have several companies (Dow Corning, for example) which are in the photovoltaic arena. And yesterday, she announced a program designed to (hopefully) make Michigan the nation’s leader in the manufacturing of lithium ion batteries for electric and hybrid cars. $300M in tax credits, among other things, with an eye on grabbing a piece of the $2 billion earmarked by the federal government for advanced battery projects. Basically, she want s Michigan to be the "alternative energy" state -- not to be confused with the "alternative lifestyle" state. According to Governor Granholm, “We are going from rust to green.” Will this work? I don’t know, but all three areas have need of inorganic chemists and that’s definitely okay by me. All the chemistry based jobs listed around here are pharmaceutical based.

4 comments:

Ψ*Ψ said...

Alternative energy, eh? I could end up there, then...so cold, though!

Chemist Ken said...

Don't worry about the cold. We're depending on global warming to take of that in the next couple of years.

Chemgeek said...

Ψ*Ψ, FWIW, Michigan is way warmer than Minnesota.

As for alternative energy...this is good. What most people and especially investors (though, I don't blame them) have trouble seeing is that spending money on fruitless research (i.e. research that doesn't produce a billion dollar idea) is still good for the economy AND science. I'm not talking about wasteful and foolish spending. I'm talking about money spent on good research that shows what can't be done and pays chemists (and other scientists).

Spending on research like this has value, but stockholders will not agree.

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