January 2010



Well its financial reporting season again and I had thought the news that Daniel Vasella – Novartis’s chief executive and chairman of the board – had decided to relinquish part of his control of the company, with current head of pharmaceuticals Joe Jimenez  taking up the mantle of chief executive, would steal the show.

However, this news was overshadowed by AstraZeneca’s announcement that it was to cut a further 8000 jobs – 1800 of which will be from R&D positions, see Chemistry World‘s full report here. (more…)

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ho

In this week’s Chemistry in its element podcast, holmium magnetises science writer Hayley Birch with stories of mythical monopoles and vaporising lasers

 

 

 

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Chemical glassware

Well, it’s certainly been an action-packed week or so in UK science policy! No, really….

Last Wednesday saw a head-to-head between the science chiefs of the three main political parties – Paul Drayson (Labour), Evan Harris (Liberal Democrat) and Adam Afriyie (Conservative) – as they played to a crowd of over 300 to convince them that their party was the best option for the scientifically inclined at the next election. (more…)

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Many of the blog’s readers will no doubt have heard of the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB), which is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. However, this week they moved into a new realm and decided to investigate a laboratory explosion at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. The explosion occurred in the university’s chemistry department on 7 January 2010, and left a

bio_bresland

graduate student severely injured.

University officials told the CSB the accident occurred during the handling of a high-energy metal compound, which suddenly detonated.

‘We see serious accidents in high school and university labs every year, including a tragic fatality a year ago at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles), said CSB chairman John Bresland. ‘I believe it is time to begin examining these accidents to see if they can be prevented through the kind of rigorous safety management systems that we and others have advocated in industrial settings.’ (more…)

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andrea-sella-barking-dog

Our very own Classic Kit columnist, Andrea Sella, will be gracing TV screens in the UK tonight in a new three-part series called Chemistry: A volatile history on BBC4 at 9pm.

Andrea has assured me that there will be lots to please both eyes and minds, but watch out particularly for the extreme slow motion shots of mercury droplets, alkali metals dropping into vast oceans of water, and a gorgeous smoke ring……

He also hinted at a slow motion film of the famous ‘Barking dog’ reaction, where you can watch this incredible blue flame (as modeled here by Andrea himself) shoot down a glass tube while making a noise like a dog barking.

For those of you who missed it last week, ‘The Secret life of Chaos’, also featuring Andrea talking about the amazing waves of the Belousov-Zhabotinskii reaction is still available on BBC iPlayer until Sunday night. I’ve included a clip of the BZ reaction in the video below, but Andrea’s are much more impressive…

Enjoy the shows, and why not let us know what your favourite chemistry demonstration is – do you like bangs and flashes, playing with liquid nitrogen or something a bit more subtle?

Phillip Broadwith

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y

This week’s Chemistry in its element podcast, stars Simon Cotton (from Uppingham School in the UK) and a colourless and unspectacular element that normally only plays a supporting role.

  

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haiti-earthquake-350

This week has seen the island of Haiti fall victim to a horrendous magnitude 7.0 earthquake. It has destroyed roads and buildings and claimed thousands of lives – the Red Cross has estimated that at least 50,000 people have lost their lives to the quake and that at least 3 million have either lost their homes or been injured.

Amgen, Abbott Laboratories and Eli Lilly are leading the efforts of pharmaceutical companies to provide cash as well as medicines. Amgen has said it will donate $2 million (£1.2 million) through its disaster relief programme, Abbott has said it will provide $1 million in initial humanitarian aid in response to the quake, while Lilly has pledged an initial cash donation of $250,000.

‘The current situation in Haiti is a profound human tragedy,’ said Robert Smith, president of the Lilly Foundation. ‘The significant number of casualties and widespread property damage require an urgent and compassionate response. We hope Lilly’s contributions will help ease some of the suffering, and aid in the recovery efforts.’

‘The recent earthquake has had a devastating impact on Haiti’s limited health care system, which was already facing significant challenges,’ said Catherine Babington, president of the Abbott Fund. ‘Building on our existing partnerships with humanitarian organisations in Haiti, we are providing funding and product donations to help address the immense and immediate health needs.’

Many other companies are donating to the efforts , including US conglomerate General Electric (GE) that has said its GE Foundation will donate $2.5 million in aid.

(more…)

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Testing combinations of chemicals could be seen as a laudable but impractical suggestion. It is unlikely that many of the Ministers will have been on an elementary course in statistics, but just to help them, the formula for calculating the number of possible combinations from maths is fun is n/r where n is the whole number of things that you could chose from and r is the number of things that you want to chose.

If ultimately we end up with 10,000 chemicals covered by Reach then for each product containing 30 of these chemicals (say Shampoo) there are 330 ways that they can be combined if each is used only once (I think). If that’s the situation for each item in the bathroom, and you rashly use shampoo, conditioner and then body wash, dry yourself on a towel that’s seen conditioner and rinsed with softened water, then decide to put on some deodorant, and aftershave/perfume. There is clearly an exposure to chemicals. I think that the number of combinations of chemicals that you could be exposed to must be about 6X330 or 2000 combinations of chemicals. BEFORE we start looking at how the amount of chemical affects the interaction between them.

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The Chemistry World Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognises an individual’s contribution to the commercialisation of research. The winner of the award will be featured in Chemistry World, read by 65,000+ people, therefore receiving valuable free press coverage. They will also receive £4,000.

Other RSC Industry & Technology related awards which mat be of interest include:

Applied Catalysis Award
Corrosion Science Award
Inspiration & Industry Award
Young Industrialist of the Year Award
Process Technology Award
Teamwork in Innovation Award

Nominations are welcome from both organisations and individuals and candidates are permitted to nominate themselves.

For more information about industry and technology related awards and to make a nomination please click here.

Prizes & Awards in other areas of the chemical sciences are also open for nomination.

Remember that the nomination deadline is 31 January 2010.

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np

This week’s Chemistry in its element podcast stars neptunium – the element that trumps New York. Because neptunium was so good they named it thrice.

 

 

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