First, a couple of thoughts:
- Finally I found some people at the meeting today! Or maybe it just helps to use rooms that seat 70 instead of 700.
- The folks in the Division of Chemical Information get a huge thanks today. Their talks (these, and these) were super interesting, they were friendly, and they answered my ultra-stupid questions with grace.
Now, to the main event:
When you sign on as ‘press’ for the week, you receive some handouts describing all of the press conferences taking place during the meeting. One of the briefings was about a new way to make biodiesel from algae. For some reason I took this to mean metabolic engineering to improve hydrocarbon production, or something, and had never been to a press conference before, so I was pretty psyched up for the whole thing. Unfortunately, as you can see here if you have 7 minutes to kill, it was a bit frustrating, to say the least. It wasn’t clear who the woman was that was talking, but she basically read the statement we had already received and then refused to answer any questions, either from lack of knowledge or because the information was proprietary. The three things I actually learned are 1) they may (or may not) have applied for a patent for their new catalyst, 2) there is a transesterification involved, and 3) ‘green’ doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone (particularly note the moderator’s reaction – priceless!). I am not normally one to make fun, but this was really a mess. Good luck to you, United Environment and Energy LLC – I hope you have found a commercially viable biodiesel conversion process that will save us all, but this wasn’t one to stop the presses for.
Catherine (associate editor, Nature Chemical Biology)