Advice on dealing with malodorous molecules, how programming is like hot dogs, and a twittering lord.
Derek Lowe's series of posts on 'Things I won't work with' normally feature extremely hazardous compounds “that explode with bizarre violence even in laughably small amounts”. The latest post on In the Pipeline (http://bit.ly/Mb3rC), however, warns readers away from thioacetone. Not because it's dangerous, but because “it merely stinks. But it does so relentlessly and unbearably.” Lowe goes on to relate some of the historical responses to this odiferous chemical, including from its earliest appearance in Freibourg. Chemische Berichte reported in 1889 “an offensive smell which spread rapidly over a great area of the town causing fainting, vomiting and a panic evacuation”. Chemistry and Industry from 1967 carries the smelly mantle, where Esso researchers reported that a single drop was detectable up to a quarter of a mile away “in seconds”. Fortunately, they offered some advice for dealing with it, but as that involved nitrous fumes and destroying all residues by fire, Lowe doesn't recommend it.
Prof-like Substance (http://bit.ly/umtx6) came to a sad realization recently: “I need to learn some programming.” He goes on to explain “I was hoping that I could leave that to students or technicians, but I know that I won't feel comfortable with the meal I am served unless I understand what goes into the recipe. It's why I don't eat hotdogs.” There were several comments on the post, with the majority recommending the Python programming language as a good starting point.
The world of 'Web 2.0' and social networking has even reached the dusty corridors of power in the UK's Houses of Parliament. The science minister Lord Drayson (@lorddrayson) is a user of the micro-blogging site Twitter and hosted an “impromptu question and answer session” on the recent reorganization that saw science under the control of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skill. Drayson offered the reassurance that science funding was “safe and sound” and that he will “continue to advocate for science”.