Materials Girl: A watched TLC plate never rises

Mar 27, 2019
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Posted on behalf of Materials Girl

It is my theory that organizations should raffle off spectrometers instead of, say, iPods. For example, various boxes of kimwipes have been advertising trips to Jamaica and home theater systems. While anyone could use a vacation, maybe we’d be stuck in lab less often if not for the long line to obtain an NMR spectrum…

Speaking of which, o-chem lab is going splendidly – apart from a handful of volatile lachrymators and an overcrowded class. I’d forgotten how semi-exhilarating it is to soak for half a day in the fumes of acetone and whatever concoctions are being nuked by the students. As suggested by Sarah, I got my hands on “Organic Chemistry as a Second Language”, but fortunately haven’t needed to use the books for more than a reference. I mostly just have to memorize peaks and trends for the exams. psi*psi was quite right: “Studying doesn’t help for labs – you have to be able to think on your feet, since the unexpected can and does happen.”

So here’s a question. In a week’s experiment, only one student obtains the desired powder (instead of an oil), but the NMRs come out messy after the higher-ups fail to mention that the product is hygroscopic and shouldn’t be dried in air. Who did a better job?


Stu Cantrill

Chief Editor, Nature Chemistry, Springer Nature

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