Editor’s note: Now that Neil has left the Nature Chemistry fold to move over to Chemistry World, we have invited bloggers out there in the wild to compose our monthly Blogroll column. First on deck: Chemjobber.
A real-time collaborative determination of an unknown chemical compound, and a graduate student tackles teaching organometallic chemistry
Remember when Paul Docherty of Totally Synthetic live-blogged an attempt to reproduce the reported oxidation of benzylic alcohols with sodium hydride? Adam Azman of Chemistry Blog recently went a step further in both speed and collaboration. During a conversation on Twitter about the identity of the trade-secret dishwasher detergent additive Lemi Shine and its remarkable ability to solubilize hard-water stains, Azman asked what chemists would like to know to identify the active ingredient. Answers from around the world flooded in, requesting both physical property data and instrumental analyses.
The following day, Azman performed wet chemistry to determine the identity of the compound, all while reporting his results on Twitter and taking suggestions for further experiments. Even images of GC-MS traces and NMR spectra (1H and 13C) were posted. The conclusion? Lemi Shine’s active ingredient was citric acid. When asked for comment from Lemi Shine (via Twitter), they responded with a cryptic “Oh so close, but no cigar.” To see if you agree with Azman as to the identity of the active ingredient, go to Chemistry Blog for a summary of the experiments. This episode has also inspired others to tweet experimental chemistry results, all under the hashtag #RealTimeChem.
How are you on the principles of backbonding? Forgotten the details of an open coordination site? Graduate student Michael Evans says that “there is a better way to teach organometallic chemistry.” Towards that end, he’s started The Organometallic Reader, where he posts an in-depth lesson each week. These excellent, readable posts are a good primer for the novice and a nice refresher for the experienced chemist.