#RealTimeChem Week – Thanks and Feedback

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Thank you.

First of all I’d like to say a big thank you (like the one above, but larger) to every single person who took part in #RealTimeChem week this past week. I never believed when I started running this hashtag on Twitter back in October last year that so many chemists (about 700+ of you!) would get on board with this project and share your chemistry (apparently there have been about 5000-ish tweets this week). I feel rather humbled to be a part of this community.

I hope that everyone who participated found it to be a worthwhile endeavour and got some enjoyment from sharing and discussing their chemistry with other like minds in the online community. Personally, I  had a great time reading your tweets, watching videos and reading the many blog posts that were written this week. I’m pretty sure I still have some catching up to do! The week reminded me yet again just how wonderful the world of chemistry is and the people that populate it. I know that some are going through the stats and crunching the numbers at the moment (I’m not all that knowledgeable on such things) so hopefully I’ll be able to share some data on the event on this blog in the future.

I’d like to send some special thanks to the following people who helped make this week such a success:

The first has to go out to @JessTheChemist – Frankly, this week couldn’t have happened without Jess. She has supported #RealTimeChem from day 1, giving up a lot of time to promote the event, run the #RealTimeChem blog carnival, break storify for the week, starting some great trends like #Freehandrings during the week and lots more. I’ve actually never met her face to face, but I’m pretty sure I owe her a drink or two. Thanks also to @V_Saggiomo for the trailer for #RealTimeChem week, which was spectacular. Cheers to @_byronmiller for his enthusiasm and suggestions, and his excellent #chemclub classics paper series this week.

Further thank yous go out to @rkiddr & @chemconnector (plus the rest of the teams @RSC_comms and @chemistryworld etc) – Richard and Tony have given me great support with #RealTimeChem since I joined the RSC, some excellent advice and suggests for the week and the future of #RealTimeChem. I look forward to collaboration with them to  keep growing #RealTimeChem so that it can continue to be a platform where chemists across the globe can come and share their experiences and feel part of one big chemistry family (in addition thank you to @aclarkxyz for getting #realtimechem added up on the ODDT app, I never believed I’d be part of an app someday!)

To @stuartcantril and @naturechemisty who have been huge supporters of #RealTimeChem since it’s inception and continue to blow the proverbial trumpet for the project. Kudos to @carmendrahl for her fabulous article on #RealTimeChem and @cenmag for their backing. 

There’s probably people and organisations that I’m forgetting, so sorry for that and plese refer to that big thank you at the top of the page!

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Okay, onto something a little important. While I run the @RealTimeChem account on Twitter, this blog and I generally have organised things, one of the great features of #RealTimeChem is that it is at heart a community based project. If it were not for you the chemists taking part….

This is as much yours as it is mine. So if you want to help me out and want to see #RealTimeChem continue then I’d love to get your feedback on the week that just happened and the project in general.

What can #RealTimeChem as a community project do for you? What aspects do you like/dislike? Do you have any suggestions to make it better in the future?

Let me know in the comments section of this post.

For the immediate future, there’s still the “Tweets of the week” to sort out (with the ChemSpider lab coat prizes to be decided!), which will be announced next Saturday (4th May), then after that I plan to take a few weeks off from #RealTimeChem on this blog (although not on Twitter) in order to focus on other matters and also digest the feedback and think about future direction for the project. Suffice to say that I think the adventure is only just beginning and the best is yet to come.

So in the words of J.K. Rowling….

Mischief managed.

-Doctor Galactic & The Lab Coat Cowboy-

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Thoughts on recent RealTimeChem developments (with a poll!)

Hello everybody!

Yes I am still alive, I know I’ve been a little quieter over the past month or so than I said I would be, but life and that holiday that used to be all about the birth of Jesus Christ intervened. Some large changes are coming my way in the form of a new job (I’m moving from my academic life as a “lab monkey” into publishing as an editor) and that’s involving a change of scenery too (from smelly old London to Cambridge).

I’m still very interested and committed to #RealTimeChem which seems to be in constant use in the chemistry twitterverse, which is frankly fantastic. Particularly intriguing is the situation brewing with the masked chemist @SeeArrOh on his blog Just Like Cooking where #RealTimeChem has been used as a call to arms to investigate a recent Fe-S catalysis reaction in the literature. This has created some excellent discussions and more importantly attempted repetition of the results, which have not been turning out great so far. I suggest if your interested to keep an eye on See Arr Oh’s twitter feed and blog.

SeeArrOh - who probably isn't a dog in real life. Although wouldn't that be AWESOME? A dog doing chemistry? What would Chemistry Cat say?

SeeArrOh – who probably isn’t a dog in real life. Although wouldn’t that be AWESOME? A dog doing chemistry? What would Chemistry Cat say?

I think this is great. This is what #RealTimeChem is there for, to be used by the chemistry community to report on chemistry being done right here and now. Science in general needs to have greater transparency so that we don’t appear to be a bunch of sentient robots, plugged into computers performing boring laboratory reactions and the general evil bidding of “the man”.

Hell there, so I'm told you're a chemist?

Hell there, so I’m told you’re a chemist?

There are all sorts of interesting tweets being made so check it out under the #RealTimeChem hastag or follow selected highlights on @RealTimeChem (I’m trying to keep up I swear!). Alternately, if you are looking for more twitter related fun you might want to check out the hashtag #OverlyHonestMethods which is also shining a light into the dark corners of REAL laboratory life with scientists of all kinds playing on the idea that some parts of their experimental methods probably wouldn’t get past peer review!

Yeah you know that product is going in that dirty water any second now, but you certainly aren't going to put THAT in your experimental section!

Yeah you know that product is going in that dirty water any second now, but you certainly aren’t going to put THAT in your experimental section!

My final point for today is to discuss the future of #RealTimeChem. I’ve made in known via twitter that at some point this year I’d like to run another event. The last one went down rather well, but many didn’t get the chance to participant so next time around the format is going to be stretched into a week. Yes folks in 2013 there will be this:

RealTimeChemWeek copyYep that’s 7 days (I know some of you work weekends) where every chemist in the world (on twitter) is encouraged to tweet about their life in chemistry for a week. You won’t have to do the whole week unless you really want to, but it you a bigger window to join in with everybody else essentially.

So when will it be? Well, I think I will leave that up to the community! Below you shall find a poll, where you can vote for the month that you would like #RealTimeChemWeek to happen. You shall note it starts from April, largely because there will need to be some preparation time for it.

So vote away and if you have any suggestions, comments or questions please leave a comment or get in touch with me via twitter.

Oh and happy New Year!

-Doctor Galactic & The Lab Coat Cowboy-

That was the longest day of your life.

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So it is all over! RealTimeChem day has come and gone on Twitter and what a day! There was so much chemistry going on that I pretty much broke my twitter account and I scarcely know where to begin when it comes to summing it all up!

I’d like to thank everybody that got involved in tweeting about their daily life as a chemist, no matter how small the contribution. You all helped to make it a engaging and all round fun day. There are some tweeters who deserve some special gratitude and I’ll highlight those in the next blog post, which I’ll hopefully have done on Monday.

Additionally, I’ll be posting up some of my favourite tweets and pictures from the day once I’ve had time to process all of the awesomeness that occurred.

While #RealTimeChem day is over, the hash tag is still there for use whenever you feel like informing the everyone what you are up to in your personal chemistry world. I think its important in this modern age of social media in particular that chemistry continues to engage with the masses and chemists are able to pass on their knowledge, enthusiasm and general love of their subject onto others in an entertaining way.

Moreover, as a chemist myself it’s really great to see what other chemists in all areas of the profession are doing daily. To see what sticky mess a reaction has made. To see what instruments are being used. To see what articles are being written or read. Even to see how dirty all those fume hoods really are!

Hopefully you enjoyed RealTimeChem Day and it has helped you to feel a part of a substantial community united by our desire for scientific discovery (and twitter!). It’s certainly inspired me.

There will most likely be further RealTimeChem events in the future, but for now…

Mischief managed. 

-Doctor Galactic & The Lab Coat Cowboy-     

Today is #RealTimeChem day

This is it!

This is #RealTimeChem day! Thank you to everybody who is planning to join in, I’m excited and looking forward to seeing all the wonderful chemistry you are up to. I hope that you all have a fun and informative time. Comment, laugh, discuss or be amazed at what the Chemistry community does in the average day.

In addition, Happy Birthday to Marie Curie!

Below I’m going to post all of the RealTimeChem posters I made during the run up for your viewing pleasure:

I’ll be tweeting as @doctor_galactic from my laboratory and re-tweeting #RealTimeChem via @RealTimeChem. It’s going to be a busy day balancing lab work and twitter duties!

However, this day isn’t about me, it’s about you and your chemistry. Let’s show the world what it means to us and by extension to them too.

-Doctor Galactic & The Lab Coat Cowboy-

RealTimeChem Day – All you need to know for the big day.

Hello everyone!

It is now just a week until #RealTimeChem hopefully takes over twitter. The response so far has been pretty enthusiastic and I’m looking forward to all the chemistry that’s going to be on show for the world to see!

Seeing as there isn’t long to go and a few people have been asking for more detail, I have produced an FAQ section so that you everyone knows the how, when, who, what and why of #RealTimeChem day.

So…what is RealTimeChem Day?

Real Time Chemistry day is a twitter based event where chemists from all over the world will be tweeting about their daily lives in chemistry… in real time.

Ooookay….why?

Chemistry often gets short shrift when it comes to media exposure and that’s a bit sad. So Real Time Chem Day will be a day to celebrate chemistry and give the world an insight into the kinds of work and the science that we do as chemists every day. It will also hopefully help to connect the chemistry community and spark intriguing discussions and it’s just pretty darn fun to see what other chemists are up to!

Interesting! …When is it?

It’s on the 7th November 2012 and lasts for the whole 24 hours.

Who can take part?

Anybody in the world who works in the field we call “chemistry”. As long as you are tweeting about part of your everyday life that involves doing chemistry then it counts – lab work, journal reading, writing papers, teaching, demonstrating, field work, instrumental work etc.

This is an all inclusive event no matter what branch of chemistry that you partake in (including biochemistry! Geochemistry! Astrochemistry! Crystallography!) or what level of chemistry you are currently at (High school! Undergraduate! Postgraduate! Industrial! Person in shed!).

Please though only join in if you can spare the time. I understand that you’re all busy people – work commitments and getting our chemistry done must take priority.

What do I have to do to join in? What should I tweet?

To join in you simply have to tweet about your day in your particular field of chemistry using the hashtag #RealTimeChem to show that it is part of the event.

As for what you tweet, well that is entirely at your discretion so long as it’s got some link to doing chemistry. In my case, I will be tweeting about actual chemistry I am performing in the laboratory.

All things that happen on the day can be tweeted, good or bad. I’m sure the former shall outweigh the latter, but we should be giving everyone an accurate view of what happens.

Incidentally, pictures of your day (such as great looking experiments) are most welcome. Obviously, only take pictures of things you are allowed to show, we understand some chemistry must be shrouded in secrecy.

Please feel free to engage with other #RealTimeChem tweeters and start a conversation. This is a day for chemists to unite and enjoy what they do.

How much do I have to tweet?

As much or as little as you want to, even if it is just one tweet. So long as it includes the hashtag #RealTimeChem it’ll count.

So just feel free to randomly tweet your chemistry as you go along, this day is for you to share what you do with the rest of the world.

How can I follow the event?

Search for the hashtag #RealTimeChem on twitter or follow @RealTimeChem for highlights. I’ll be keeping an eye on twitter all day and re-tweeting every #RealTimeChem tweet I can (or as many as twitter will allow!) and commenting on the fabulous things you are doing.

Who invented #RealTimeChem?

Certainly not me. However, I have been participating for a while on an off in doing some #RealTimeChem tweets. I believe that the inventor was @azmanam who was trying to determine what was in Lemishine and happened to tweet his results using, and @JessTheChemist produced a storify page to follow all the RealTimeChem that happened. Since then it has caught on a many others have joined in to tweet their chemical reactions in real time using the same hash tag.

I think we all agreed that tweeting about laboratory chemistry was such fun that it would be nice to have a #RealTimeChem day to celebrate, and here we are!

Why is #RealTimeChem day on 7th November?

This is the birthday of Marie Curie, the first woman to win the Nobel Prize and the only to win it in two separate fields, chemistry and physics.

If you want to do something extra fantastic on the day please feel free to donate to Marie Curie Cancer Care.

Who is running #RealTimeChem?

Mainly the same person who runs this blog, “Doctor Galactic and The Lab Coat Cowboy” who can be found under the name @doctor_galactic on twitter and also @RealTimeChem. I’m a post doctoral researcher in the UK, who is just coming to the end of his contract. For me this is possibly one last hurrah before looking toward chemistry pastures new.

In addition to the @RealTimeChem feed, @JessTheChemist will be continuing to update her storify page and www.chemistry-blog.com will be showing #RealTimeChem tweets in their Chemistry twitterverse box.

Anyone else who wants to post anything about #RealTimeChem on their blog or anywhere else is most welcome to so long as they refer back to @RealTimeChem somewhere.

Can I help to promote #RealTimeChem day?

Sure thing, just retweet any information you want regarding the event and mention it to your chemistry friends on twitter. Even mention it to your chemistry friends outside of twitter. The more chemists we get to tweet, the more chemistry we get to enjoy!

There are a couple of posters that have been uploaded on @RealTimeChem with some more to come this week. So feel free to use these as you will or make your own!

What’s with the “24” theme?

It felt particularly relevant to the nature of the day. We are all Jack Bauer on #RealTimeChem Day, we just do chemistry.

I want to do something really spectacular, can I?

Yes, so long as you are safe. All the normal rules of chemistry apply, including the use of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). We don’t want anybody to get hurt doing something on #RealTimeChem day.

I don’t want to tweet but I want to watch, can I?

Of course! If you don’t want to tweet you can still watch the rest of us on twitter. The best bet is to follow @RealTimeChem which will be re-tweeting as many highlights as possible.

What will happen afterwards?

I plan to sift through the tweets and make a series of blog posts highlighting my favourites here on this blog. The real point of the day is to have some fun and get chemistry out there for the world to see, so that will hopefully be its own reward.

Will there be future #RealTimeChem days?  

Everyday can be #RealTimeChem day if you so choose it. The hashtag is there to use whenever you are doing any chemistry. If the event itself is popular enough, then most certainly we’ll try to organise another full day in the future. I would like to make it an annual event and perhaps expand it to cover a whole week. The possibilities are endless.

Any other questions? Then drop me a line in the comments box on here or via twitter @RealTimeChem.

Enjoy the day, I’m looking forward to it!

 

 

-Doctor Galactic and The Lab Coat Cowboy-

Trip the light fantastic.

Alert! Alert! Shameless plug for my own chemistry contained within!

I would be totally missing an opportunity if I didn’t blog about some chemistry that is very close to my heart, so here’s a little ode to my PhD work. My thesis a.k.a the bane of my life for three whole months that consumed every single waking hour, until my brain felt like it had been pulverised into the ground…*ahem*  …what was I saying?

Oh yes, my thesis was entitled “The Double [3+2] Photocycloaddition reaction“.

I’m sure some of you will have quickly beaten a retreat when you noticed the prefix “photo-” in that there sentence. Photo-chemistry is an oft maligned area of research because it can be quite a fickle mistress, that behaves in unusual ways compared to your standard thermal chemistry (those high energy states just love to do crazy shit!). There are also the many practical considerations you have to account for: purity of reagents, solvent selection, direct or sensitized irradiation (do you need a sensitizer?), the specialist equipment, quantum yield measurements (which are a pain in the behind I can tell you) and the hazards of high energy UV radiation.

Of course, none of this should put you off, because what you can do with photo-chemistry is pretty darn marvelous. You see, one of synthetic organic chemistry’s greatest challenges is to create step-efficient routes toward compounds with high molecular complexity (i.e. to make something complex as possible in as few a steps possible). Therefore, reactions which provide more than one bond in a single step are of significant importance (see the Diels-Alder reaction).

In my own work we reported an intriguing case of a double [3+2] photocycloaddition reaction that resulted in the formation of a complex cis, cis, cis, trans-[5, 5, 5, 5] fenestrane derivative  from a simple aromatic acetal as shown in scheme 1.

Scheme 1 An example depicting the photochemical  reactions of arenyl-diene photosubstrate, including the double [3+2] photocycloaddition reaction.

During this transformation, four carbon-carbon bonds, five new rings and seven potentially new stereocenters are created in an essentially one-pot process using only UV light (at 254 nm). Here’s an X-ray crystall structure of it, because X-ray crystal structures always make your chemistry 100% more legit:

You can’t dispute this little beauty.

The reaction actually occurs in a sequential manner from the linear meta photocycloadduct (for a detailed review of the meta photocycloaddition reaction click here or here), via a secondary [3+2] addition of the alkene across the cyclopropane of the adduct. In addition, an angular meta photocycloadduct also produced in the initial addition step, undergoes an alternative fragmentation-translocation photoreaction to afford an angular triquinane compound. Scheme 2 gives a little idea of mechanistic stuff.

Scheme 2: A mechanistic summary of the reactions involved in the irradiation of the linear meta photocycloadduct.

We also produced a series of other fenestranes (including my favourite nitrogen containing variant) through the same method which can be found in our follow-up paper in JOC. I think we really only scratched the surface of this chemistry, but due to a set of unfortunate circumstances which I’d rather not recollect, the work has had to cease for the time being. I’d like to go back to it some day because it’s quite a unique area.

Fenestranes are quite rare in nature and their synthetic utility is pretty much untapped, but they’ve got bags of potential as possible agrochemicals, chiral auxiliaries, scaffolds, pharmaceuticals and materials. They compare favorably to the steroid class of compound in that they are both conformationally rigid and chemically robust. The real problem with them is the are hard to make (although not using our method)

A selection of naturally occurring fenestranes. Pretty aren’t they?

Penifulvin A shown above actually has notable insecticidal properties, whereas asperaculin was only recently isolated, but being a fungal metabolite it may also prove useful. Laurenene unfortunately is totally useless, but it certainly looks the part!

If you really wanted to see all the nonsense I got up to in my PhD, I have just discovered that you can buy my thesis on Amazon…which feels a bit weird. It’s still pretty cool that you can even buy a kindle version!

The Lab Coat Cowboy