ACS Philadelphia 2008: Bad luck strikes – twice

Like Comment

Some people have all the bad luck. I was recommended to go this morning to a session on self-replication. Sounds cool, I thought. I bet it will be busy…

But I was very wrong. Where was everyone? The recommendation turned out to be right, and I really enjoyed Douglas Philp’s talks about self-replicating systems, but the room must have had about 15 people in it. I didn’t get it, so I asked Philp how come he had failed to pull in the punters. “I was up against Bob Grubbs,” he said.

Ah, it all becomes clear. That’s bad luck I said. Grubbs is a Nobel prize-winning chemist from Caltech who is a giant in the catalysis world. He even has his own catalyst.

Poor Doug, I thought. Still, better luck for his next talk this afternoon. Nope, it seems the Philp brand of chemistry will fail to reach the masses once more. This afternoon he is up against Barry Sharpless, also a Nobel prize-winning chemist, from Scripps, who has more than one eponymous reaction.


The message to Doug Philp, and anyone else landed with these unfortunate timetable clashes is clear: you’re going to have to get a reaction or a catalyst named ofter you. Or you’re going to have to win the Nobel prize in chemistry. Preferably both.

Better luck next year, eh?