Pints and Science in Manchester

I just received word of a pretty unusual science focussed drinking event in the glorious bars of Manchester. Or maybe that is supposed to be a drinking focussed science event…..I’m not sure. 12 fascinating talks by scientists have been organised by a great team of folks and will be taking place in your favourite beer serving establishments.

Check out Pint of Science 2014 for times, topics and venues.

And remember, consume your beer with a critical mind and your science in moderation……….erm………….


Paper of the Year

In the run up to Christmas members of AK Glorius are asked to present their favourite paper of the year. Of the eighteen people presenting, nine have selected so far, and as you might expect Science papers feature quite heavily; and strangely enough, most papers selected were published in the last 2-3 months! Once the list is complete I’ll post all the papers here, and probably give my moderately informed opinion as to which I think worthy of the list, or otherwise.

What would be interesting in the meantime, is your (i.e. you internet people) Paper of the Year. Nominations in the comments or via #chemPOY13 would be great, and then we can see how representative our list is in comparison.

p.s. We are organic chemists by the way

You must be joking. That got published where?

I am no stranger to a controversial piece of work, my first post-doc publication took a solid pounding from one referee, and I have taken a fair bit of flack since its publication both in person or otherwise (nothing online bar comments in the following links, so no gratuitous trolling I am afraid). Some people also said nice things about it (here ($) and here (free)) though.

The reason I mention this is because yesterday a paper was published in a notable journal that could well indeed fit in to this category of “controversial”. A key difference between this and my work though, is that amongst the people I spoke to, we were not divided. About half the people I discussed with were critical of my work, but we appear to be unanimous that the work from yesterday is not worthy of publication where it was published, by a long shot.

[It should be noted we might all be completely wrong, after all, we are all friends and therefore probably have a similar outlook; but if not….]

There are many reasons why this is upsetting, but for me the main one is this: many people toil for a long time on their work, they have it criticised and rejected, stamped on and sometimes even treated unfairly. This is a hard thing to take when you commit so much to a piece of work, but then to see work that really appears significantly unworthy of publication in a given place is demoralising and upsetting. It is not only a kick in the teeth for those who have work rejected, but devalues other work published in the same place. This is bad for the journal, scientists and research as a whole.

Incase you were not sure about hydrogenation

If you were unsure about the significance of research into new hydrogenation catalysts here is some more food for thought.

3 papers published ‘back to back’ in Science:

Nanoscale Fe2O3-Based Catalysts for Selective Hydrogenation of Nitroarenes to Anilines (Beller)

Cobalt Precursors for High-Throughput Discovery of Base Metal Asymmetric Alkene Hydrogenation Catalysts (Chirik)

Amine(imine)diphosphine Iron Catalysts for Asymmetric Transfer Hydrogenation of Ketones and Imines (Morris)

I won’t discuss the merits or otherwise of the papers, you can judge for yourselves, but this is indicative of the huge amount of research left to be done in this field and the significant impact it will continue to have for many, many years to come.