Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pelger-Huët, pince-nez and the Top 5 pince-nez chemists

I was reading some bio-stuff and encountered a story about the Pelger-Huët anomaly; a congenital disorder in which granulocyte nuclei fail to segment normally. In heterozygotes most granulocytes have bilobed nuclei.This is often called a pince-nez cell.
You don't see them a lot nowadays those pince-nez things. The last I've seen was a sun-pince-nez.
A pince-nez (meaning 'pinch-nose') is very nice equipment for a chemist. Sure a beard, moustache, good pose, lousy way of dying, statue and a lousy grave are great, but a pince-nez is something that can make you quite distinguished and it's for women too.

So, now it's time for the:

Top 5 pince-nez chemists

1) Emil Fischer
The man always looked the same. It is said that he was born with a beard and a pince-nez.

2) Walther Nernst
3) Fritz Haber

He lost his hair but gained confidence and stopped using a pince-nez safety line.

4) Henri Louis Le Chatelier
5) Moses Gomberg

Decided to wear a pince-nez although his big ears were perfectly suited to place temples over.

Friday, July 27, 2007

# 3 of the Top 5 old Tour de France drugs

In the Top 5 old Tour de France drugs the third place was missing. Number 3 is a bit mysterious.

3) Trimethyl

You may wonder: Trimethyl what? Trimethylsilyl azide? Trimethylsulfonium iodide?

Well, I don't know. Nobody knows it seems.

The British cyclist, Arthur Linton from Wales is often reported as the first cyclist who died because of drugs.

It is often said that Linton died in 1886 because of an overdose 'trimethyl'. This trimethyl stuff must be quite awesome because ten years after his death Linton won the race Bordeaux - Paris (1896).

In 1896 Linton died again, this time of typhoid fever, a few weeks after Bordeaux - Paris.

And here they write

Arthur Linton, an English cyclist died from the effects of a stimulant (trimethyl) while riding in the Tour de France.

The first Tour de France was in 1903, so Linton died at least three times.

This trimethyl-something is quite amazing.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Top 5 old Tour de France drugs

In France there is this cycling competition going on. The guy who is the quickest wears the yellow jersey and is then kicked out of the competition because of suspected use of performance enhancing drugs.

In the 1930’s amphetamines entered the sport, killing Tommy Simpson in 1967.
Hormones came and in the 1990’s EPO was preferred. Blood transfusions and testosterone are now the hypes in the Tour.

The first Tour was in 1903, and it is quite amazing what drugs they took back then.

Top 5 old Tour de France drugs

1) Ethanol
Ethanol was used to obtain a fuddled state and relief pain.

The Algerian Abdel-Kader Zaaf drank two bottles of wine in the tour of 1950. He fell asleep under a tree. When he woke up he got on his bike again but proceeded to ride the wrong way on the course.
Quite performance enhancing indeed...

2) Chloroform
Used to fight pain. Henri Pelissier admitted the use of chloroform (and cocaine) after the tour of 1924.

4) Strychnine
A powerful and deadly stimulant. This highly toxic alkaloid was injected. A large dose was not recommended.

5) Nitroglycerin
Nitroglycerin capsules were taken to increase the heart rate and open the airways. Bumpy rides were not recommended.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Top 5 musician chemists

On the Element titled albums-post Ashutosh commented : 'Now is the time to do a Top 5/10 musician chemists'. A top 10 list is out of the question here (top 5 only) and requests are often ignored but this 'Top 5 list' was already on our 'Top 5 lists to do list'. The candidates were already there, so here is the final list.

Top 5 musician chemists

1) Sir Edward William ElgarThe famous English composer was an amateur chemist. In his house in Hereford he had a basement lab where he experimented. Later he moved his lab to his garden shed which he called 'The Ark' (because doves were nesting there). He invented a machine to produce hydrogen sulfide and made explosions by handling phosphoric waste carelessly.

2) Alexander Borodin A Russian chemist and composer. Gave his name to the Hunsdiecker-Borodin reaction and is a codiscoverer of the aldol reaction. He wrote opera, symphonies, chamber music, piano suites and more. He was a member of The Five (or 'The Mighty Handful') a group of Russian composers who met in St Petersburg between 1856-1870. The other members were Mily Balakirev, César Cui, Modest Mussorgsky and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

3) Fletcher Henderson

Received a master's degree in chemistry in 1920 but was unable to find a job because of the color of his skin. He decided to earn his money with music and formed a jazz big band in 1922. In 1924 Louis Armstrong joined his band. As a pianist, bandleader, arranger and composer Henderson had a big influence on big band jazz and Swing music.

4) Lejaren Hiller Hiller received his Ph.D. in chemistry from Princeton in 1947. From 1947 to 1952 Hiller worked as a research chemist for DuPont in Waynesboro, Virginia where hedevelopped a method for dyeing acrylic fibers. Hiller studied composition as well. He became a member of the chemistry faculty at the University of Illinois in 1952 but in 1958, he transferred to the music faculty. In 1968 Hiller became a professor of composition at the University of Buffalo. Hiller founded the Experimental Music Studios in Illinois.

Votoček was professor of Experimental Inorganic Chemistry and Organic Chemistry at the Czech technical University. His most important chemical work was in carbohydrate chemistry. He wrote chamber music, orchestral pieces and piano sonatas. Votoček also contributed in the field of linguistics. He spoke 7 languages fluently, wrote dictionaries and did translations.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Top 5 failed chemists

Studied chemistry at the German Charles-Ferdinand University of Prague for two weeks. He switched to sudy law and became a writer.

2) Cindy Crawford

Studied chemical engineering at Northwestern University for three months.

3) Isaac Newton

Filled his days with alchemical experiments. The only substantial achievement in this area was causing mental illness by mercury poisoning.

4) Oliver Sacks

Wrote one of the most popular book about chemistry (Uncle Tungsten) but never studied chemistry. Grew up in a chemistry-minded family. As a boy he was fascinated by chemistry, but he became a neurologist.

5) Knute Rockne
Worked as a chemistry research assistant under Julius Nieuwland at the Notre Dame University but stopped doing science to dedicate his life to football.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Named chemical process patents

Baekeland Process – Leo Baekeland; US942699 (production of bakelite)
Bosch-Meiser Process – Carl Bosch and Wilhelm Meiser; US1429483 (production of urea)

Creighton Process – Henry Jermain Creighton; US1612361 (reduction of sugars)

Gibbs Process – Harry Gibbs; US1285117 (production of phtalic anhydride)

Haber-Bosch Process – Fritz Haber; US971501 (production of ammonia)

Raecke(or Henkel) process – Bernhard Raecke/Henkel&Cie Gmbh; DE936036 (production of terephthalic acid)

Twitchell Process - Ernst Twitchell; US601603 (cleavage of fatty acids)

Tyrer Process – Daniel Tyrer; US1210725 (sulfonation of hydrocarbons)

There are more named processes but I was not prepared to do more patent searching, maybe some other day.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Element titled albums

Chembark and Carbon based curiosities recently spoke about a connection between music and chemistry (Tom Lehrer and Heavy Metal).

So, there is a connection between music and elements. There are many album with an element title .
There are 'metal element titled albums'.

Palladium by Autopsia

Plutonium by Inca Babies

Or 'two metal elements titled albums'.

Silver & Gold - Neil Young

There are 'non-metal element titled albums'.
Helium by Urban Myth club

Oxygene by Jean Michel Jarre

There are album titles with element symbols as well.
H2O by Hall & Oates

H2SO4 by The Waves

But these are 'compound titled albums' instead of 'element titled albums'.

This raises the question : 'Are there chemical reaction titled albums?'

Chemical reaction by Vodka Collins

Nice try, but this doesn't qualify.

This may qualify.

H to He (Who am the only one) - Van der Graaf Generator

Okay, the sun's conversion of Hydrogen to Helium by nuclear fusion is not a real chemical reaction, but it is a reaction and they use the element symbols. English 70's progressive rock by Peter Hammill et al featuring the fabulous Robert Fripp is nice for a while.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Top 5 molecular model DNA guys

1) The Nobel DNA guys - Francis Crick and James Watson

2) The other Nobel DNA guy - Maurice Wilkins

3) The Z-DNA guy - Alexander Rich
4) The non-Nobel X-ray diffraction DNA guys - Raymond Gosling and Herbert Wilson

5) The almost DNA guy - Linus Pauling
Unfortunately there is no photo of Rosalind Franklin with a molecular model.

Top 5 alcoholic beverage chemists

1) Dmitri Mendeleev
Wrote the dissertation 'On combining alcohol and water'. He discovered that 38% was the perfect strength, giving the most homogeneous mixture. Mendeleev formulated new state standards for the production of vodka. 40% was the vodka standard because spirits were taxed on their strength, resulting in easier calculation.

2) Aeneas Coffey
In 1809 Coffey became surveyor of excise in Ireland, in charge of opreations against illicit distilling. In 1810 Coffey was severly beaten by moonshining countrymen when he tried to close down illegal stills. In 1821 Coffey patented the Coffey still. In 1835 he founded Aeneas Coffey & Sons, the firm still exists under the name John Dore & Co Ltd.

3) Louis Pasteur
Discovered that fermentation is caused by microorganisms while he was trying to sort out the problems of a fermentation process of a distillery. He also discovered that not all yeast is the same, and that not all yeast makes fine beer.

4) Angelo Mariani
Invented Vin Mariani in 1863, bordeaux wine with cocaine and became a wealthy man. Vin Mariani is not commercially available anymore.

5) Chemgeek (Eric W.)
For further information please visit: http://homebrewandchemistry.blogspot.com/