Nature Chemistry | The Sceptical Chymist

Blogroll: Trouble brewing

[As mentioned in this post, we’re posting the monthly blogroll column here on the Sceptical Chymist. This is December’s article]

An oral history of pharma layoffs, the wonders of beer and some embarrassing artwork.

What do chemists do after they’ve just been laid off from their job in the pharmaceutical/chemical industry? Chemjobber is trying to gather useful information from people who have been through redundancy to “hear as much advice as possible for people who will be laid off”. Since the Layoff Project launch in mid-October, at the time of writing Chemjobber has been contacted by six people willing to tell their story. These have ranged from someone with 30 years’ experience to someone ‘freshly out of school’, and from someone clearly having an understandably tough time adjusting to life without “being able to discuss chemistry” to someone whose personal circumstances changed so drastically they could easily put the loss of work into perspective.

Wort. Mash. India pale ale. German wheat beer. You probably expect to see words like these in a blog post about beer, but how about gibberellic acid, enzyme inactivation, dextrin oligomers (with structures!) and isomerization? Regular Blogroll readers won’t be surprised to learn that the blogpost in question is by Martin Lersch, of Khymos. In his ~2,500 word post ‘Wonders of extraction: Brewing beer’, he takes readers through a thorough look at the first two steps of brewing beer: mashing and wort boiling. In his words, these “are really quite sophisticated extractions”.

And finally…what better way to decorate a new chemistry lab than to frost some pictures of molecules onto the glass doors, and onto a funky yellow glass artwork? Well, if you go ahead and decide to decorate your lab with molecular structures, perhaps you should check out at ChemBark what happened when Georgia Tech did this. If you don’t like five-valent carbon or triply bonded bridge head atoms on fused rings, you have been warned!


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