Announcing #RealTimeChem Hub & new 2015 features

Hello everybody,

It’s taken me a little while and some serious blog maintenance (wordpress sadly doesn’t make that very easy sometimes!), but I can finally announce the launch of the #RealTimeChem Hub page.

From this page you can find links to other parts of the #RealTimeChem universe. So far, these include a link to the #RealTimeChem: FAQ and a few other features. These include:

RealTimeChemInFocus copy

New for 2015 are guest blog posts from members of the #RealTimeChem community with the 1st one scheduled for February 2015. To find out more about these posts and how this works, click the picture above to take you to the #RealTimeChemInFocus page.

RTCBanners#RealTimeChemBanners is the new name for the #RealTimeChemBannerChallenge that started at the end of 2014. If you are feeling artistic, why not submit some art and it could be used as the banner for the @RealTimeChem feed on Twitter!

FAQ Banner

Finally, the recently announced #RealTimeChemPlaylist, hosted on Spotify. Add your favourite chemistry based tunes and rock out in the laboratory/office/shed.


So, that’s it for now. More to come! Any questions, get in touch on Twitter.


-Doctor Galactic & The Lab Coat Cowboy-



Howdy y’all,

After a spooky makeover for Halloween, the @RealTimeChem feed is back to normal, but in changing the main banner thing…wait is it a banner? It’s a “header photo”? …I don’t even care anymore it’s a banner thing…Anyway, I thought it would be nice to have a change of scenery and a bit of a healthy #RealTimeChem Brigade competition. No prizes as such except the winner gets to have their artwork displayed at the top of the Twitter profile all official-like. I also thought it would be a good way to celebrate reaching 3000 Twitter followers, which should happen any day now.

Of course, this being a competition I’ve got to set some ground rules:

RTCBlogBanner copy


1. Your image has got to be chemistry related. Pretty obvious I know.

2. It’s got to be cool.  I’ll let you use your own definition of cool. But it should at least be the 1980’s definition of cool.

3. The final dimensions for the image should be 1500px (width) X 421px (height) – I’d suggest a resolution of 300 DPI or greater. In case you need any further guide on the layout you should look at this handy template I found (here).

4. In order to enter the competition please upload your entry to Twitter using the hashtag #RealTimeChemBannerChallenge. Otherwise it won’t be considered. I’m harsh like that.

Final submission date: Monday 17th November 2014

And when I say final submission date I mean final. Once it gets to Tuesday you’re out of luck. This isn’t a “journal themed issue” submission date folks.

Best of luck, really looking forward to seeing what you come up with. Also a massive thank you to everyone who has taken part in #RealTimeChem these past two and a bit years and turned it from a few lonely post docs into a world spanning community.

UPDATE: Original competition closed! BUT See most recent post about the Banner challenge  above! 

-Doctor Galactic & The Lab Coat Cowboy-

Chemistry stars don’t shine in Science Magazine’s Twitter galaxy.

Hello everyone,

It’s been a while since I last blogged all the way back during #RealTimeChem week. A lot of interesting stuff has happened in the online chemistry world since then, in particular Science Magazine’s much debated and hugely controversial “Top 50 science stars of Twitter“. I’m a little late to write a long winded blog post on how immensely wrong this list was, but suffice to say it mostly boiled down to 1) a lack of women (4 out of 50!) and 2) zero chemists.

A galaxy of science stars. Probably more likely to find Wally than a chemist in here.

Although considering that Science Magazine has tried to rectify their original mistakes by creating a sequel to this list, which adds an extra 50 stars, maybe I’m not so late after all. If at first you don’t succeed and all that jazz. While the new list is something of an improvement in that it adds some more women into the mix, it also adds in a raft of all male economists and Brian May (who may have completed his thesis recently, but I’d hardly consider his stardom due to science).

The excellent Paige Brown Jarreau addressed the lack of women in the original list in some considerable style with her blog post response to Science Magazine’s list. It’s well worth a read, explains the situation far more succinctly than I could and is a fantastic guide to finding some of the many women who tweet about science on a daily basis (you can also check the hashtag #WomenTweetScienceToo). I maintain that a career in science (in all of it’s shapes and forms) should be open to both genders on this planet.  Anyone who disagrees with this… well, here’s a door. Please use it.

No, that white light isn't heaven, it's oblivion.

No, that white light isn’t heaven, it’s oblivion.

With respect to the second point earlier, considering the amount of time I’ve spent on Twitter conversing and interacting with other chemists via #RealTimeChem, I was rather flabbergasted by the omission of every single one of them, especially considering that there are some who are plenty more active than many of the Tweeters on Science Magazine’s so-called “Top 50”.

So, when I was approached by Lauren Wolf to be a member of a panel to choose 20 Chemists Worth Following on Twitter I jumped at the chance. Please check the link if you want to find some cool Chemists to follow. Alternatively, check out Stuart Cantrill’s somewhat larger list as well (you could also follow @RealTimeChem, but hopefully you already know about that one).

With the release of the second longer list and still a lack of any chemists, it does begin to beg the question…where are the social media stars of chemistry? Why doesn’t our branch of science have anyone with enough popularity (judging from the number of followers anyway) to make it on to this list? Why is the most famous modern chemist the average person on the street can name most probably a fictional meth peddler?

He does wear a hat well.

These are difficult questions to answer. Chemistry certainly has a well documented image problem in the wider mainstream media at the moment. An image where chemicals are more often than not instantly labelled as “bad” and big pharma is the equivalent of the stereotypical moustache-twirling evil villain of old black and white movies.

It might be that Chemistry seemingly doesn’t have the same sex appeal as other sciences such as physics, which can pull any number of fancy universe spanning subjects out of its bag of tricks.

Just look at that. Physicists have claimed the universe as their playground.

They’ve also got Professor Brian Cox, super star. A man who is so not a fan of chemistry he’s hopeful that the notion of chemistry will disappear forever to be replaced by his beloved physics.

How can we improve this situation? How can we ensure a chemist is included on any future lists of science’s social media stars?

We work harder. We shout louder. We show the world what chemistry means to us and what it should mean to human kind. We engage. We enthuse. We excite. We amaze.  

Oh… and we should probably all tweet a lot more. 

-The Lab Coat Cowboy-

#RealTimeChem week 2014 – Tweets of the Week

Hello everyone,

First of all, thank you very much to everyone who took part in #RealTimeChem week this year. Once again it was great fun and fantastic to see such a wide variety of chemists taking part from across the globe. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in 2015!

Obviously, #RealTimeChem is a 24/7 project, so feel free to keep sharing chemistry whenever you want and engage with your fellow chemists around the world.

There were a lot of really great tweets this week as seen in this years awards. This was actually really really hard to decide on. If I had enough prizes I would have given you all one. Unfortunately, only the very best of the best can win one of this years prizes.

This years must have item for the discerning chemist.

Time to find out who has won these beauties!



Below you shall find the three winners of the “Tweets of the Week” for #RealTimeChem week 2014. These three tweeters not only produced these excellent tweets, but also many more throughout the week and I think they are all worthy winners of a #RealTimeChem Week 2014 mug. Congratulations to you all!



From Monday – this tweet from the whimsical Laura Jane (@laurajane0103) was only one of many fantastic contributions during the week. It sums up a typical day in the laboratory for many in a fun way. It’s what #RealTimeChem is all about and was a great way to start the week.



From Tuesday – this polyurethane strawberry milkshake almost looked good enough to drink! Andres Tretiakov (@Andrestrujado) shared a whole host of wacky, fantastic and exciting chemistry during the week and any one of them could have won a Platinum award, but I try not to give out more than one to any contributor!




From Wednesday – food was a big theme of #RealTimeChem week this year and I’m definitely a fan of cooking (even if I’m not that good at it). John Grimes (@jgrimesjr) shared quite a range of tweets over the week, but my favourite was this close up tweet of a delicious looking peanut butter-y product. It could also be the clouds of a gas giant! Either way I love the texture in it and I also really appreciate the humour with which the tweet was delivered, chemistry often looks better than it smells!



So there you have it. If all three winners could please send me a DM on twitter with their address as soon as possible and I’ll get that prize out to you.

Once again thank you to everyone who took part in #RealTimeChem week 2014. I hope you had fun, learned something new and found some new connections in the chemistry world.

mischief managed

-Doctor Galactic & The Lab Coat Cowboy-

#RealTimeChem – Tweets Of The Week

RTC Awards

Tweets of the Week

It’s now been almost a week since #RealTimeChem week ended. There were in total 18 platinum awards given out, all of which were brilliant,  but only 3 could walk away with a prize. This has taken some considerable deliberation, but the three “Tweets of the Week” are shown below, congratulations to all of you!



From Friday – Kat’s participation in #RealTimeChem week was pretty big, blogging everyday and tweeting too. We loved this vine from Friday a lot.


From Tuesday – Luke combined the two things that chemists seem to all love. Chemistry and drinking. Plus I love the idea of taking chemistry out of the laboratory and playing with it in the wider world. Plus it just looks plain cool.


From Thursday – Vittorio has something of a reputation for amazing chemistry videos. He made the trailer for #RealTimeChem week. No bias here at all I promise you because frankly, this video is astoundingly hard work. Column chromatography meets Nintendo in a glorious symphony. An absolute highlight of #RealTimeChem week and a definite prize winner.


So a big congratulations to the three winners above, DM me your addresses on Twitter via @RealTimeChem and I shall send you your fabulous Chemspider lab coat!

Thank you again to everyone who took part. It was a great week and keep on using #RealTimeChem whenever you want!


-Doctor Galactic-



#RealTimeChem Week – Thanks and Feedback

RTCWeekBannerInternational copy

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!


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-