(The questions were collected in this previous post, and my first 5 answers were posted here.)

6. Michael Barclay: “What do you think about chemistry Nobel prizes going to more biologically related fields? A detriment to our subject or an example of how chemistry can cross a variety of fields?”

I don’t have a personal beef with Nobel chemistry prizes going to biologists. Biology is applied chemistry. Chemistry is applied physics. Physics is applied philosophy.

Borders in science are for managers and Powerpoint gurus. All real scientists want same thing: the truth about the universe. Bickering leads us astray.

7. Galen: What do you think the next biggest thing in organic chemistry will be? Or if you like: What will the industry look like in 20 years?”

Difficult to see, the future is. Where is my flying car?

OK, seriously now. The next big thing: Flow chemistry. It is simple, elegant and ingenious. The industry in 20 years: Much more diverse than today. Smaller and more specialized companies. Better for science, worse for middle management.

(For the record, “galen” is Swedish for “mad” or “crazy”.)

8. Rik: “3 unsolved problems in chemistry not mentioned in

NOT mentioned? Yikes. I’m glad I didn’t get that one during my PhD defense… how about:

  1. An final end to the patent system, and something better to replace it with
  2. The ability for humans to understand thermodynamics
  3. A solution to the Schrödinger equation

9. ThomasGD: “What are the computer programs that, as a chemist, would simplify your work, and that you can’t use because they don’t exist yet or are too expensive?”

I want the client version of SciFinder back! Relying on browser limitations, the constant need to upgrade (or downgrade!) flash and java… yeah, it would certainly simplify my work. Same message goes to you, team Reaxys: Give us a stand-alone version.

What else… let’s see. I’ve been using a couple of different ELN solutions. I must say however I prefer the good old lab book. A physical blank sheet of paper and a pen; I’ll take it any day over any software.

Finally, where do you buy the software they use in CSI? I could certainly use those.

10. anon: “what’s the point of total synthesis and does it have a future?”

Nice try! Total synthesis is NOT totally pointless. One could argue that an awful lot of talent and resources are wasted on developing crazy routes to products you could isolate from a plant in one day. Using the same line of reasoning, why not shut down all research and use what we already know? That would certainly save society a lot of money! (Ssshh… don’t tell your local politician.)

But the goal of science is not production, is it? Science is about finding answers. In my book, total synthesis has given us a lot of answers. Don’t get blind-sighted by the exact structures, Jesus H. Christ. Pick up a good total synthesis paper, try and understand the authors’ reasoning, then figure out how you can apply these findings when synthesizing your own target compounds, today or in 5 years from now. Total synthesis has a bright future.


Concluding remarks

This was fun, but I can’t believe how polite you all were! I said “ask me anything“, and all I get is chemistry questions, dammit. Now you will never know my the lies of my life, my favorite nude actress, or if I have been arrested for jaywalking.

Next time, Gadget…



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