Reflections on long hours in the laboratory, and working for results

A recent Twitter discussion on long work weeks by academics caused me to reflect on my previous life in academia – that decade where I completed my MSc and PhD in chemistry, postdoctoral studies, and four years as an assistant professor of chemistry in two different universities. The Twitter discussion began in earnest when, In response to this tweet about the distribution of work hours for “average” professors: The average #professor works over 60 hours…

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At the library

The DOI system is great and all, and I love being able to access nearly the entire scientific literature without having to leave my desk. But there’s something wonderful about looking up a textbook with no full-text access online, and instead walking down to the uni library with a Dewey decimal number scrawled on a sticky note. Pacing through the shelves of books, finding the one I want, taking it down, and smelling it.

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The biennial athletic pursuit for group 11 elements has begun!

When I first saw a periodic table of the elements, I observed that the three Olympic medals – gold, silver and copper, the largest component of bronze – were the three group 11 elements. The order of these elements from lightest to heaviest – copper (Cu), then silver (Ag), then gold (Au) – follow the order of the medals in ascending value. (In 1994, a fourth group 11 element was discovered. With a half-life of…

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Deadlock & Leader as deformations of Prisoner’s dilemma & Hawk-Dove games

Recently, I’ve been working on revisions for our paper on measuring the games that cancer plays. One of the concerns raised by the editor is that we don’t spend enough time introducing game theory and in particular the Deadlock and Leader games that we observed. This is in large part due to the fact that these are not the most exciting games and not much theoretic efforts have been spent on them in the past.…

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Why the Golden Age of Cinema was its most dangerous

Going to the movies in the first half of the 20th century was dangerous.  The movie theatre projection room was a hazardous place to work.  And while the source of the danger was well understood, it took several decades for filmmakers to finally offer moviegoers and projectionists a safer environment to enjoy Hollywood’s finest works. Before looking at the dangerous chemistry of early film, let us remember how motion pictures work.  The video portion of…

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