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Comment Columbia University football coach (Score 2) 18

I could be wrong but I believe that Bill Campbell was called "Coach" because he used to be the coach of the football team at Columbia University. I don't think they won many games under Bill.

I met Bill Campbell when I visited Apple around 1990 as a member of the Apple Pharmaceutical Advisory Council. He showed us all the cool stuff that Claris was up to and gave me a copy of Claris CAD. It was a neat visit for a bunch of chemistry nerds from out east.

Comment Re:It's wrong because... (Score 1) 294

Hey surfdaddy, Don't beat your generation and yourself up. Science reporting in the popular press has been weak for as long as I've been a scientist (40 years?) and I suspect that it's been weak for a lot longer than that. Science is hard. Writing about science is hard. The few people that might be good at it are probably smart enough to be doing something else. Like investment banking.

Comment scientist vs engineers? (Score 1) 73

I think the real problem with the whole premise of this post is that it groups scientists and engineers into the same group. I've been a scientist for many years and have known quite a few engineers. They are actually quite different breeds. Engineering is about applying known stuff to new problems. Science is about discovering new known stuff. The Nobel prize is really a proxy for scientists and says not much about great engineers.

Comment Pharmaceutical industry (Score 2) 179

Lay-offs are now the norm for what was once a "job for life" career path, a PhD doing medicinal chemistry. I left big pharma for biotech 25 years ago and twice we were eventually bought by big pharma. Once we lasted 11 years after the acquisition. The next time the whole company was dissolved immediately. Everyone lost their job. The stock payouts and severance never covered the time off between jobs. I know a few people who have been pfired by Prizer more than once as Pfizer acquired companies. Even the big pharma where I started got bought by Pfizer and all were Pfired. It's gotten ugly. The chemistry part of STEM is hurting more for jobs than it is for people. I suspect that's true for most STEM areas and that the STEM shortage is more about cheap labor and non-investment in employees.

Comment Re:this is not mass spectrometry (Score 3, Informative) 82

Come on AC, be nice. You can't use near-IR to identify unknowns when you have a nearly infinite number of possibilities. There are devices for monitoring reactions using Near IR, but their use requires intimate knowledge of the contributing components and calibration of each one. If some new unknown shows up you don't get enough information from their near IR absorbance to assign identity. I 've been doing this stuff for 40 years so I don't need to read the wiki article and become an instant expert like you. However, I will read the wiki article and see if I can understand why you've been mislead.

I just looked at the article. You owe me an apology.

Comment Re:this is not mass spectrometry (Score 2) 82

You're right, this article is garbage. This may or may not be a neat device and may or may not be capable of doing cool things but you need to go somewhere else to find out. Mass spect would be cool but without some kind of separation up front for all the components, it would just give noise. I don't think they've figured out how to get mass spect this small. Near-IR also sounds suspicious. As an organic/analytical chemist all my life, we've used spectroscopy from radio waves (NMR) to x-rays (crystallography) and everything in between. There's very little structural information to be gleaned in the near-IR region. A lot human tissue is actually clear to near-IR and we're using special dyes that show up in the near-IR to image tumors. So maybe if someone puts those special dyes in your cheese, you could tell with this device. No, this article is garbage.

Comment Re:Foldit (Score 2) 93

Man! I want some of what you're smoking.

Foldit is a series of programs that work with human intervention and lots of distributed computing to try to help solve the problem of protein folding. That's going from a primary sequence (which you can get from the human genome project) to a tertiary structure, ie how it folds. If you figure out how to do that with great confidence, then you have a protein target to use to design drugs. But there are already tons of x-ray structures of proteins that are real available today to anyone who can hit this link (http://www.rcsb.org/). And they're more useful than a calculated structure and there are a lot of druggable targets in there to work on.

So, Citizen Scientists, quit waiting around for Foldit and get to work.

Comment Re:Good questions (Score 1) 204

As someone who works in an area where everybody is working on a "cure just around the corner", I am totally bewildered by the comments. Talk about missing the point. The article is about the wildly overoptimistic reporting of a lot of crappy research and the under reporting of the slow steady progress that is being made. However, the moronic readership of this site immediately goes into some kind of conspiracy frenzy about hiding cures. Look, you bunch of morons, when a cure shows up, ain't nobody gonna hide it so they can keep treating you with expensive crappy stuff that you take forever. Take Solvaldi for example. People used to take a lot of nasty stuff (ribavarin, interferon etc) to poorly treat hepatitis C. Solvaldi essentially cures hepatitis C in about 97% of the cases. Only problem is they want about $84,000 for a course of treatment. There a plenty of things to complain about related about health care and its costs but the amount of ignorance displayed on this site related to this post is disturbing.

Comment Re:What is old is new again! (Score 1) 30

You need to rethink your views on combinatorial chemistry (CC). Anybody who has run the same reaction over and over again to make analogs found the concept of CC attractive. In fact, there was a substantial amount of good work done to make it possible to do good science using combinatorial chemistry or parallel synthesis or DOS as Schreiber tried to call it. Very little of that work made it to the literature or the market. And very little of it was in place until the late nineties or the aughts. The problem came from the super hype put out by the early advocates and the embrace of CC by management as a way to replace rather than enhance other research approaches. I suspect that we would all be successfully using CC except that management found an even cheaper replacement, outsourced chemists.

Comment What is old is new again! (Score 2) 30

Back in the 70's and 80's, all the pharmaceutical companies had large groups of scientist that spent all their time growing bacteria and stressing them in a huge variety of ways. They collected bacteria from all over the world and grew them up and hit them with all kinds of stress (radiation, chemicals, other bugs, etc) to get them to make interesting and useful secondary metabolites. That's how a lot of drugs, especially antibiotics, were discovered. And if there was some problem with the drugs, the chemists made similar drugs or modifications to those drugs to make them better (like Lipitor). In the 90's there was a fad in the industry to fire all those scientists and replace them with I don't know what. Savings, I think. By the middle of the aughts, they were all gone. I watched it all happen with horror. So if I read the article right, these guys are doing something new and exciting that used to be done routinely 30 years ago. Of course, they're bringing more modern technology to bear on the operation and it's good to see it happening. I just thought the whole process sounded familiar.

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All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford