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Posts tagged with "How Not to Do It"

  • How Not to Do It

    How Not To Do It: The Secret Patent Decoder Ring

    Patent applications are no fun to write. You have to figure out just what you’re trying to cover (and how wide a space around it you want to try to clear), and the lawyers have to whip up language that casts just the right legal spell. The chemists have to write up detailed experimental procedures… Read More
  • Graduate School

    How Not To Do It: Water Aspirators

    You need access to vacuum if you’re going to work at the bench in chemistry. In fact, you need more than one kind. Reasonably hard vacuum (well, by our standards, which is laughable by the standards of the physicists) is down in the single Torr or below – that is, less than about 1% of… Read More
  • How Not to Do It

    How Not To Do It: Diazomethane

    This post will have one of those stories that I can’t vouch for personally, and I’m very glad of that. It involves making diazomethane, which will have already gotten the attention of the chemists in the crowd. Diazomethane’s a very useful reagent, but it has to be treated the right way. You can’t buy it… Read More
  • How Not to Do It

    How Not To Do It: Column Chromatography

    I was mentioning chromatography last week, and I’ve been running several columns this week myself. I’m doing them the new-fangled-with-sufficient-funds way, which has been the standard in the drug industry for many years. You buy the columns of silica gel pre-packed and plug whatever size you need into a machine. Then you load your sample… Read More
  • How Not to Do It

    How Not to Do It: Hydrogen Bromide

    I’ve written before about all the fun you can have in a lab with compressed gas cylinders. We use the things all the time in chemistry, but as pieces of apparatus, they can only be pushed so far. The problem is that they demonstrate their unhappiness by venting great quantities of stuff that you’d rather… Read More
  • How Not to Do It

    How Not to Do It: More Diethyl Ether (Now With Extra Hardware)

    Man, have things changed since I was in grad school. We used to pour all kinds of horrible things down the drain – mind you, this was a good twenty years ago. But you can’t do that now, can you? A respected University of Washington pharmacology professor became a felon Wednesday when he acknowledged dumping… Read More
  • How Not to Do It

    How Not to Do It: Tertiary Butyllithium

    Over here at scenic Lowe Manor (otherwise known as the House that Pharma Has Paid And Will, With Any Luck, Continue Paying For), the dinner table conversation sometimes runs to things like the proper handling of flaming t-butyllithium. Well, OK, the conversation is a bit one-sided, since I’m the only one in the house who’s… Read More
  • How Not to Do It

    How Not To Do It: Ruining Stuff

    Here’s a question for the readership that should generate some interesting answers: what’s the most valuable item you’ve seen someone ruin in a lab? I’ll leave it broad enough to include both equipment and materials, and I expect to cringe numerous times on reading the comments. I can put one into the hopper to start… Read More
  • How Not to Do It

    How Not to Do It: Sophomore Organic Edition

    I had a lot of long days when I was a teaching assistant. One semester I had three lab sections of sophomore organic chemistry to TA, and sometimes after the first lab of the week I knew that I was in for a rough ride. Such was the case when we took the students through… Read More
  • How Not to Do It

    How Not to Do It: Distilling HMPA

    Dylan Stiles has a post up on distilling HMPA, which will be familiar to anyone who’s worked with the solvent. The problem is, HMPA doesn’t come dry, and it has be be dry to be any good. You can take the wimpy way out and dump a load of dessicant into a fresh bottle, but… Read More