January 2012



29 January 2012: Have something to say about an article you’ve read on Chemistry World this week? Leave your comments below…

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US approves skin treatment – Amgen buys Micromet for $1.16bn – And Dow enters carbon fibre joint venture (more…)

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Somewhere in a dim and distant chemistry lesson we were first introduced to the atom. We learned that it has a nucleus (a bit like the sun) and that around the nucleus, dutifully obeying classical mechanics, orbited the electrons (much like the planets). The simplicity of the idea seduced even the great Niels Bohr. Everything seemed so perfect, so beautifully inter-related: from the atomic to the cosmic, the universe resonated with harmonious similitude. But, of course, it couldn’t last. (more…)

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In this week’s Chemistry in its element podcast, Duncan McMillan breathes life into carbon monoxide: a silent killer whose calling card is the ironically healthy hue of its victims. But, as Duncan explains, these days canary-based CO detectors are a thing of the past and we’re even learning that CO can be helpful to us, as well as harmful.

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Alnylam cuts one third of workforce – New Novo Nordisk diabetes R&D centre – And Georgia Gulf spurns $1.1 bn takeover bid (more…)

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Even before it was published, the arsenic life story (about a microorganism that uses the toxic element arsenic instead of phosphorus to live) was causing controversy. But while many people went back and forth with criticisms, Rosie Redfield has been trying to repeat Wolfe-Simon’s experiments, and chronicling them in her blog.

This isn’t the first ‘peer-review by blog’, as our reader’s might remember from 2009. But following the blog has been both incredibly interesting and a wonderful reminder to me of the ‘joys’ of lab work. Open notebook science is still in it’s infancy, but Redfield is using her blog to document both her arsenic experiments and the other work her lab is doing, and even introduces experiments suggested by commenters.

Anyhow, it now looks like there’s just about enough evidence to refute the arsenic life paper, and so Redfield is writing it up.

I’ve loved following the story, but I think it will also be interesting to see what happens next. Will Redfield’s paper be accepted? Or will the ‘prior publication’ of data a problem. And if the paper is accepted, will Wolfe-Simon’s be retracted. Whatever the outcome, these are interesting times for scientific publication.

Laura Howes

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While the peer review process often draws criticism, most would agree that it is a necessary, indeed integral aspect of conducting research. Even the most ardent critics acknowledge that the simple, even elegant, system has shown itself to be at least an adequate tool for a difficult job.

But peer review is not perfect and when it is itself scrutinised, there are various shortcomings that one might wish to address. Now, a group of researchers based at the University of Jyväskyklä, in Finland, want to take peer review and make it better. (more…)

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The people of Croatia yesterday decided that the country’s future lay with the European Union, despite the financial turmoil afflicting the bloc. They resoundingly voted yes to joining the EU, with 66% in favour. However, only 43% of those eligible to vote bothered going to the ballot box. But what will this mean for the country’s research base? (more…)

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22 January 2012: Have something to say about an article you’ve read on Chemistry World this week? Leave your comments below…

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Takeda to shed 2800 jobs – FDA approves Voraxaze but rejects dapagliflozin – BASF and Philips light up auto market with OLEDs (more…)

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