Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Back From Thanksgiving Break

Well, I had a great Thanksgiving break. We took an extra long one...more relaxing and fun! My first day back (yesterday), I TA-ed all day long. It was a long day since my students had a lab final to complete. They had to solve this forensic crime scenario. Two bodies had gotten mixed up, and they had to figure out what body came from what lake and the cause of death: accidental or murder. Two girls found alcohol in the blood, but didn't know if that meant it was murder or an accident. I asked them if they had ever seen CSI or Law and Order.
That's how I would know it was an accident. Hopefully, they ended up figuring it out even though they had somehow managed to never see a forensic show.

Monday, November 21, 2005

New Daylight Savings Time!

Did you know that in 2007 our dates for daylight savings time will change? To save energy, daylight time will start 3 weeks earlier and end a week later. People who have already heard about this change are already worried. It's another (smaller) Y2K scare. Our computers won't change on time. When will our cell phone anytime minutes begin? What about new VCRs that change automatically for daylight savings time?
Don't worry. We got through Y2K...I think we can handle this without riots and social breakdown.

Nitrogen Misconceptions...An Education

So I'm about to get on a soapbox. Misclaims about science. I was reading this article in C&EN about how people are advocating that we put pure nitrogen into our tires instead of just plain air. This is proof that you should not believe everything you hear on the news...the following claims are from newspeople along with the scientific (real) answer.

1. "Nitrogen is four times heavier than oxygen, so those molecules are bigger and won't be able to escape through the small leaks in your tires."
Actually, nitrogen is lighter than oxygen, but it's such a small difference, it wouldn't make a difference in this case.

2. Because "nitrogen is very dry", "your tires stay inflated longer." "There will be less pressure fluctuation than you get with oxygen."
So water vapor could build up in your tire from moisture-laden air, but the water should escape from tiny leaks.

3. "The moisture in oxygen can prematurely corrode your tires."
What??!! Far-fetched and never has been seen.

So now you can say, "That's not true!" when you hear people say we should put nitrogen in our tires instead of air. You can give them nerdy reasons why not.

Friday, November 18, 2005

You Might be a Chemist if...

• you wash your hands BEFORE going to the bathroom.

• you put your coat on after you get to work.

• you think Chemistry is pHun.

• you can't see the word molasses without thinking of a joke.

• you think mathematicians are less nerdy than physicists.

• you think about designing a container for a universal solvent.

• you can't watch a pharmaceutical commercial without correcting the pronunciations.

• you become preoccupied thinking about the wave function of a duck.

• the only lab experiments you remember are those that you screwed up.

• the only lab experiments you talk about are those that somebody else screwed up.

• you read the word "unionized" without any thoughts of labor and management.

• you look at yourself in a mirror and try to decide which is D and which is L.

• you truly believe that a neat desk indicates a frightened mind.

• you observe National Mole Day on 10/23, and have even calculated the "mole second".

• several of your colleagues remind you of John Forbes Nash, Jr. in the movie "A

Beautiful Mind" - without the brilliance, of course.

--From the University of Missouri-Rolla Chem. Dept. page (

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Banana Oil

In lab today, my students made banana oil. How many people actually like the smell of bananas? I was sick by the end of class from the smell. A few weeks ago, they isolated a compound that smells like black licorice. I loved it. It made most people have asthma attacks though.
I always wonder if I smell like an organic lab when I leave. I hope not. I don't want people thinking I smell like bananas today. Gag me.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Journal Writing

I spent all afternoon working on a journal article over my research. It's really hard to organize all my research and interpret it. Kudos for others who have successfully written a journal article! I feel like a first grader trying to write a coherent story. It's just sentences strung together that kinda make sense. At least, this will help me out when it comes to writing a dissertation. I don't even want to think about that!

Sickly TA

So two weekends ago I got pretty sick. I think I had the flu. I dragged myself up to school on Tuesday for my lab I teach. Looking back, I was pretty pathetic. Besides giving all my students my flu germs, I was pretty sickly looking I'm sure. I just sat on a desk against the wall the whole 3 hours and tried not to pass out. The professor came in and announced, "Amanda feels like poo (yes, that were her words) so don't bother her with questions." Of course, I still got questions. I just coughed on my students and probably gave incorrect information since I couldn't think straight.
This week I'm much better thank goodness.