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, April 8, 2008

Coffee (again) and Anonymity Issues

Well, damn. No sooner do I write a post explaining how my distaste for coffee has put me at risk for Alzheimer’s, but yet another article shows up describing how coffee can help prevent MS. I’m beginning to feel as though I’ve been putting my health in jeopardy all these years by not drinking the stuff. Fortunately, it seems that it’s the caffeine which is responsible for the benefits… again. Since I still cannot stomach coffee, I guess I’m just going to have to increase my uptake of soda and tea.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned a new technique which allowed synthetic enzymes to undergo 'evolution in a test tube' that mimics natural evolution. The resulting enzymes were apparently 1,000,000 times faster than the original enzyme. Here is a much more detailed explanation of the technique by Ed Yong over at “Not Exactly Rocket Science.”

Several weeks ago, I mentioned that Kyle over at the Chem Blog was considering shutting down his blog. His reason for doing so was due to the grief he was taking from colleagues as his anonymity had slowly evaporated. (His comments tended to be a little scathing.) You may have noticed I never mention my name, the company for which I work, or the names of the schools which I attended. Since the majority of my posts are meant to be lighthearted and since I do not expect to be criticizing other people’s research very often, I may be being overly cautious, but for right now, that’s the way I’m going to roll.

Over time, astute readers will probably begin to figure out where I went to school. That’s fine. Although there were a few professors with whom I was at odds during my Ph.D. project, I doubt that any of them will ever read this blog. Work, however, is a different story. I’ve been very careful not to reference my workplace, the projects I’m involved in (even if publicly known), or my co-workers (well except for the guy who destroyed my CRC). I’m not saying that my company would be upset if they knew I was blogging, but I’m not saying they wouldn’t be upset either. I just don’t know. I’ve heard enough stories about co-workers who were released because they were looking at the wrong internet sites during work, or who accidentally emailed a risqué joke to the wrong person. I know they track the websites we visit. I know the IT department receives a message every time our firewall blocks me from visiting a restricted site. The company is very concerned with its reputation and I would not be at all surprised to find that our company hires other firms to search the internet for employee based content. Paranoid? Perhaps, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong either.


Ψ*Ψ said...

I don't think you have much to worry about, unless they'd fire you for hating coffee! The site is completely non-offensive, non-work-related as far as I can tell, and it's pretty entertaining.

Chemist Ken said...

Thanks for the kind words. Sometimes I wonder if anyone gets my humor.