Carl Zimmer has written two very meaningful books recently.
One is on the world of viruses. It creates a meaningful picture
for the world of viruses and their interaction with humans.
Virus, as a term, initially meant venom from a sake or the semen
from a man. Its meaning evolved over time to mean a contagious
substance that could spread disease and initially used a tobacco
disease, tobacco mosaic virus.
Bijerinck used virus to describe an agent in the fluid which was
composed of 95% protein and 5% nucleic acid, a protein shell holding
a few genes.
Carl Zimmer outlines eight classes of viruses and how they originated
and infect humans. So many of these virus types are treated via
chemical means. Classes included-
1. rhonovirus (meaning ‘nose’ virus) spread by hands, hoorknobs
2. influenza (from Italian) droplets in air releassed from coughs,
sneezes, and runny noses
3. human papilloma virus HPV Papillomanvirus require some physical
4. ocean viruses - many types are still being discovered
Cholera is caused by blooms of waterborne bacteria
which are hosts to a number of phages, that are viruses.
5. Retroviruses insert their genetic material into hosts DNA.
HIV is spread by contact with body fluids
6. West Nile Virus is spread by mosquito.
7. Ebola - spread by body fluids
OKR Systems described in outline and detail in Doerr’s
book Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono and the Gates
Foundation Rock the world with OKRs see also videos.
Goal setting is not bulletproof: When there are conflicting
priorities or unclear, meaningless or arbitrarily shifting goals,
people become frustrated, cynical and demotivated.
Goals may cause systematic problems in organizations due to
narrowed focus, unethical behavior, increased risk taking,
decreased cooperation, and decreased motivation. Hard goals
drive real progress more than easy goals. If they are specific
results observed are on target more than vague ones.
For those making the transition from academic experiences
to commercial or mission oriented organizations, Doerr is
a powerful mentor.
No body knows what will happen in the future Yuval Harari
describes in his books and in podcasts
. [See “21 Lessons for
the 21st Century”]. The twin revolutions of information
technological disruptions and biotechnology could restructure
more than economies and societies, but also our own bodies
He finds jobs in the future will be robust if they retain a menial
and creative element. Yet, so much of professions can be data
managed, searched and automated.
We are seeing a real “AI arms race”, led by remotely controlled
autonomous weapons. It is rapidly leading to invading human
Technological disruption_engineers are taking over.
Ethicists and philosophers are being lost, but incredibly missed
and needed alongside technological development.
Technologies provide immense positive outcomes, but there
can be unintended consequences and bad actors are even more likely.
We must remain very skeptical, questioning ideas and choices.
and defend and uphold a legal system that protects people.
There is human suffering and we must know it happens.
One of the areas technical professionals can use tutorials is in legal
matters. Al Sklover does this with his outstanding blog and advice
column and ECS Interface has been offering a Patent tutorial by
Maria Inman and Jennings Taylor.
points out three pertinent items in contract law…
- Importance of Section Titles- read carefully the title and section
content and confirm they express the same thing
- Entire Agreement- Sometimes other and previous agreements may
apply. It is important to seek out the precise wording and specific
- Importance of SIGNING AGREEMENTS
- First to file in patent law changes
- Significant detail on “Prior Art” for patents
- Nature of Prior disclosures in collaborations influencing patent claims.
This entry was all set to go then a terrific article on
travel came across my screen. Let me start there …
broadcasted a comprehensive article containing
travel tips that many would be advised to take heed of.
1. Plan for the unexpected. Medical emergencies,
Cutting short your travel. Natural phenomena.
2. Know what to do in an emergency. Contact list.
Have it available wherever you are.
3. Get your home, auto, finances in order and secured.
Now to the entry. WSJ editorial page had a
. It is an eye-opener
and worth reading, especially if the reader is early in
There are “tells” [poker analogy):
-Pres. Clinton telling people he liked their tie.
-Person takes a call in the middle of a meeting.
-Person asks to have the material sent to office and follow
up. No follow-up occurs.
-Person takes your business card and picks his teeth with it.
detected by a series of astronomical devices
confirming a source as a “blazar” the first known source of
extraterrestrial gamma rays. this is the beginning of high
energy neutrino astronomy. This nerdy finding is like
gravitational particles and other recent discoveries that
may introduce new concepts in science and applications.
(think: x-rays, isotopes, DNA)
Using Electrochemistry to perform organic synthesis.
A half dozen authors reviewed advances in organic synthesis
that is energy and environmentally efficient in
. They provide experimental essentials and dozens
of documented examples. This could be a resource for
your research notebook.
.One of the areas that you should keep updated on iswhat is happening in cyber-security when we get spam.
Another is cyber attacks especially if you are in a governmental
lab or project or other technically sophisticated project.
Industrial spies are not commonly mentioned, but are
sharing some of his insights. There is an arms race in the
cyber world and it uses special techniques like turbosquatters
More and more, IT departments need to take a defensive
strategy against these kinds of pernicious attacks.
Historically, photographing or copying pages of reports
and data was the mode of spying. With systems going
digital and so much being Internet enabled, it is something
you need to understand how to protect.
Steven Brill outlines the changes that have occurred
triggering the financialization of the chemical enterprise
that we have highlighted through the work of Rana Faroohar
Brill points out that business today has taken on a new meritocracy
with a “get rich quick” philosophy that works through cut-throat
tactics and the flooding of political influence money that no
longer prioritizes the common good, but “win at any cost” for
the privileged few.
The resulting model finds successful businesses protected by
“moats” that shield off predators. Moats he describes as good
product lines, great reputations, predominant market share and
sterling management who hire the best of the best teams that
savvy investors will seek out.
More and more we see AI and robotics impinge on human
roles. So in addition to seeking cognifying roles
in our careers,
consider what John Meacham has urged
- do practical work in the political sphere employing your highest
- respect and insist on true facts and deploy reason (avoid
dictators who lie frequently assuming that repetition will lead to
- keep history in mind.
Just doing chemistry is not enough for professionals.
Three informative items came across my desk that I wish to
share. These are either benchmarks of progress or inflection
points for the next technology generation.
The first is about using statistics to provide an interpretation
of the uncertainty of a measurement. It may have larger
impact on small statistical samples. This article might have been
useful for me in reporting results of one aspect from my
doctoral thesis (structure-activity relationship).
Most of us who have some familiarity with DNA know it as
a double-stranded helical structure revealing the chemical
basis of biological differences. It is interesting to read the
speculation of Claude Gagna in “Reactions” 6-4-18 about
non-canonical nucleic acid structures and their biological
Finally, I was pleased to see discussion on tandem solar
cells with perovskites which may pave the way for
higher efficiencies that will get me interested in placing
solar panels on my northern city home.
STATISTICS: SIGNIFICANT DIGITS
SOURCE: S. Deming, Amer. Lab. 6-2018, p. 30
Granularity of Data.”
Readers of this blog will recognize my fascination with
Deming’s short reports on statistics. Here he helps us see
our way to understand how some data with small sample
size can be interpreted and some questions you can ask
MOTIFS IN DNA STRUCTURES POSSIBLE MOLECULAR
SOURCE: C Gagna, CEN Reactions CEN6-4-18, p. 3
Original citation Stu Borman
I liked the way this was handled and reemphasized.
An original commentary on a new chemical finding was
remarked in Reactions section not long afterwards.
This line of thinking has broad implications as well.
There should be a practice in journal publication that
does this sort of follow-up to bring strong ideas up
and share them with the chemical community. I emphasize
this for grad students and post-docs to build ideas of this
nature in your research notebooks. It is a solid foundation
for your professional careers.
PEROVSKITE SOLAR CELLS IN FUTURE TANDEM
It has been talked about for decades that tandem cells
absorbing more of the solar spectrum could yield higher
efficiencies. The development of unique structure
solar cells, like perovskites, should push efficiencies
up closer to the 30s and make panels more realistic
if they can have long functional life and limited
efficiency fading over time.
I will be watching this development.
Interesting observations in several fields that touch
on scientific realm are offered in this post.
value. Tessa Pocock wrote about the photosynthetic
efficiency of different low intensity wavelengths
on plant growth, the McCree Curve. This is a
possible application for solid state lighting and
specific crop production.
CRISPR Patent Rulings. Two sources talking
about the continuing saga of patent protection
filings from UC Berkeley and Broad Institute
are teachable moments for technology development.
offers that the result could impact
The Courthouse and expedited application process
AI in Science. While the first of two articles
ramifications in all fields.
AI- diagnosis and disease probability
AI- personalized medicine (skin cancer, smoking
AI- drug discovery using unsupervised learning
algorithms of pattern recognition
AI- predictive analytics in clinical trials to reduce time
AI- interpretation of scans using smart algorithms to
AI- seamless communication of health records
more detail about “optical biopsies” in the near
future as part of AI in diagnosis.
Harold Pollack shared a meaningful list that fits on an
Index Card of hints to deal with transitions. Nine items
- Live within your means, restraining impulses that
can get the best of you where your belongings can
- Within one year, spend no more than 14% of
- Set up accounts to deal with requests and bequests
where you limit budget items.
- Control debt lines of credit where you avoid
high interest financial burdens. Determine strategies
to eliminate existing ones. Help others achieve the
- Stick to your core expertise. Consult with a
professional about personal investments. Beware
of IT recommendations without the full picture.
- Manage investment choices using low fee vehicles,
shield investments from taxes and other obligations.
- Interview and choose committed financial adviser,
attorney and insurance provider, so you are proactive,
thoughtful and within the law.
- Bring in experts to financial decisions.
- Give generously to reputable causes that meet your
purposes, knowing that you are responsible to
Many of these suggestions seem fit for approaching
retirement. Yet, it is not too early to have these in
mind much earlier in your career and have them
carry over as good habits.
You prefer to wake at a certain time. You do your best
thinking, analytical work at certain times during each
day. Physical work feels right, too, at definite times.
that offers a classifying tool with some quick observations
about each “type,” similar to MBTI personality and
Behavioral tools. I have not decided if chronotype is
definitely a feature that will help you understand yourself.
broadens the scope of time, timing and psychology
that you should pay attention to. Using physiological
observations he relates body temperature routines to human
concentration and deduction powers , test taking, daily
activity scheduling, taking breaks, naps, interviewing,
how to begin important tasks and endings.
INTERESTING POINTS (book or You-Tube)
LIWC - peak-trough-recovery pattern of mood
- earnings calls of CEOs; morning better
Breaks and naps; break out of “trough”
Brene Brown - mid-career slump relief
James Dean Effect - careers, life style assessment
Peak-end rule of Kahneman
Synching forms: codes, garb and tough times to
From–CJ’s mailbag from 5-21-18 CEN, p. 27
Question/Answer: Is it better to jump from one company to
another or stick with a company long term?
While the question is an appropriate one, his short
answer was not satisfying. (It was: no one knows!)
Where I come out on this question: There are five features
that will help you answer the question for yourself.
1.CULTURE AND GOALS.
.CJ offers the big company, small organization
argument saying larger firms desire loyalty.
My view suggests that you might assess whether you are
comfortable in the company culture of how things work and
what your title, responsibility and security-opportunity-
influence triad balance is.
2.YOUR BOSS AND MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE AND POLICIES
. Do you like and communicate well with your boss and
your support staff? Is there trust and honesty. Are the policies
flexibly meeting your needs for the present and the future? Look
out for more than the present. Can you ask hard questions and
get honest answers?
3.YOUR FAMILY SITUATION AND NEAR TERM GOALS
We work to satisfy our particular families’ needs, first.
Are hours of work, travel, stress level such that it allows your
personal needs and wants to be met? outside of work life.
4.YOUR LONG TERM HORIZON
We all must stop being an employee
at some point. Do
you want it to be your choice or business conditions or an
arbitrary “committee beauty contest” selection? When you
leave will it be fair and open, on good terms? Can you
have the benefits your family needs and are they protected?
5.YOUR CURRENT POSITION AND ASSIGNMENT AND
WHERE IT LEADS YOU AND ALLOWS YOU TO LEARN
Are you challenged and learning important things every day?
Do you feel positive about what your goals are and look forward
to each day’s challenges?
Telling the truth, for myself, and for those for whom I
have mentored, have a mentor team that will help you
pose questions and look at the big picture for you.
I could not have gotten to where I am now without the
outstanding help of mentors. Two qualities that I felt
they provided were persistence and outside of the box
You should always have radar ‘on,’ to learn about your
field. You should always have an early warning system
telling you the good and bad (remember: management usually
holds back on delivering bad news and too often uses
rose colored glasses and a ‘bow on top.’)
We all can relate to how our existences are consumed
by cell phones, computers, wifi and alexa. AI is not
far behind where we relate more and more with robots
and devices for many needs, wants and desires.
Nonetheless, the art and reality of being good at conversing
with others makes human relationships hum.
Sherry Turkle wrote of an interviewing technique in her
“Employers have come to appreciate the vulnerability of
the new generations. Some businesses explicitly screen
for an ability to converse.” A big pharma exec told of a
conversation with an applicant. Then, at the end ‘I tell the
potential recruit that their homework is to organize what we
have discussed and from that make an agenda of interesting
themes for our next conversation.’
This approach emphasizes the importance of listening skills,
getting a clear understanding of each person’s ideas and
purpose and being able to synthesize a cogent argument.
This is not to say that the advantages digital technologies
are not used and important. It emphasizes the “and” in
conversation and digital technologies, in addition to knowing
when and how and when not.
The author states some well demonstrated doctrines like
practice with conversation and digital technologies is key–
use it or lose it…
She adds in texting, punctuation is everything (it is easily
I liked where she relates the motivation for using digital
technologies (the Goldilocks effect) and what it does in
This easily readable book is a recommended read for
technical professionals who want to get ahead and seek
some good advice.
Three things have come to my attention. One was a recent
graduate’s interest in a consulting firm position. So we
have been in discussion about how she might prepare for
developing her cover letter, resume and other documents.
A second item relates to an important technical area that
Bill Gates has indicated demands more attention– preparing
Finally, an interesting letter to the editor in CEN by
Professor Adam Heller talks about mitigation work
needed to deal with the growing global warming threat
we all face. I note this because Adam has always been
at the forefront of where technology needs are…lithium
batteries, lasers, biomedical devices and more.
The initial volley involved getting information on the company,
seeing the job description and related information from
insiders and Glassdoor.com. As is found from many of
- desire blending information technology and management
- recently graduated from top institution with credentials
- skilled and experience with using software and developing
learning tools in C++, Java, C# and other platforms
- demonstrates outstanding communication skills in all phases
So this provides some hints about important things to include
in application documents. But we do need to go further. Using
Linkedin, and the firm’s website we can learn more about
the kinds of project areas and notable citations. One citation
came up about a highly touted recent book on consulting that
the CEO wrote. Probably would be good to pick up.
Then, consider making use of your network to glean other
useful information and tactics to allow you to stand out, like.
the name of the recruiter to send things to.
PREPARE FOR NEXT PANDEMIC
In a recent ScienceAlert post Bill Gates talked about an
area of high need. Gates told of a simulated disease
spread model of a flu borne pathogen. It would create
devastating consequences that we are not prepared for.
Strategies and organizations need to be formed to
identify the mode and source and rapidly develop
mobile operations to isolate, treat and inoculate larger
populations. This is long range thinking well beyond
the fiscal and election cycles that should be of interest
to technical professionals interested in being part of
something larger than themselves and making a difference.
In a Letter to the Editor of C&EN on April 30,
A. Heller wrote of the high need to report in their
pages the critical need for scientific research to
develop and test strategies to global warming
catastrophes the earth faces.
Where C&EN fills its pages with alternate energy
and conservation, these are “tip of the iceberg”
solutions. Trends point to global wealth and the resulting
use of resources without sustainable management as
the dominating input for continued earth warming
in addition to a series of unintended consequences of
loss of ice caps, changing climate patterns and severe
natural events in tropical areas.
Work on Geochemical approaches is needed and
has to be reported in C&EN and to the wider
Did you sign a non-compete agreement with your current employer?
Did you keep your employment offer letter that promised certain
What are your retirement benefits from your first employer–
did you maintain your employee handbook? [if the company
still exists and functions…]
These are valuable insights that Al Sklover poses in formulating
a defensive “go” file in case you need details of your
take his prudent advice.
While surfing to learn about a former employer and
possible future changes in its pension arrangement,
I came upon a practical wbesite that I wish to share
with you on financial matters.
BFG. Interesting discussions are provided on:
Recently, Listened to a podcast that got me to thinking
about peer review in Chemistry. Many of the people
I meet are so concerned about being an author of a set
number of publications as a basis for completing their
degree and for being considered a candidate for
Then, in mid career motivations can include:
make money, get promotions, grants and recognition;
get things right, publish or perish, demonstrate expertise
and accomplishment. [In the commercial world, publications
represent modest benchmarking for achieving goals.]
discussion that brings up the motivations for publishing
in scientific journals, replication, hypothesis testing
and peer review.
It is instructive perhaps to get an idea what happens
when an article is submitted for publication. ACS and
Royal Society have tutorials on what is involved web
sites describing the process. … assuming it works properly.
The professional scientific process depends on this. Just
like general publication conclusions errors can happen and
negative results are most often not presented.
Science is a slow process that involves error corrections,
application and refinement. Perfect peer review will not
happen. Earp opines that crowd sourced peer review of
pre-print articles might be an improvement over the
Rarely, if ever, do Chemistry graduates ever receive formal
or informal introductions in chemical enterprise business models.
We think it is of critical importance as it shows is how individuals
and corporations learn and how its core values.(business purpose,
core culture, operational processes and policies) are demonstrated.
So many of the BS, MS and PhD / post-grads do not find a
match to what they believe are their skills and interests. They
might initially desire to emulate their advisers, but opportunities
are often limited. So, they look for start-ups and entrepreneurial
business models. Heintz et al
show how business models can be
different in different cultures. This is an important consideration
for it affects decision making from many angles.
has predicted that chemical enterprises will benefit from
digitalization but as a whole are slow to incorporate them. This
is an area to embrace or at least consider when assessing the job
pictures families of business models.
- flow from raw materials to finished products with customer
service to offer value to customers
- exchange driven platform where groups of consumers and
producers aim to maximize value
So two examples to make things concrete for readers. Think
about the way we consume news. Newspapers in the 20th
century were from larger news organizations, printed at
central locations, hand delivered and read cover to cover.
Mass distribution of video and radio complemented printed
media. Now, we consume news mostly online via internet
and cable 24-7 and there is so much that news is continually
updated and corrected. Because of this nature and the various
media formats and sources how businesses make a profit has
moved from coupons and ads to clicks and eye balls.
Photography is a second model that reveals the revolutions
from print format to virtual world which can be re-constituted.
Then there are many other factors like portable power,
miniaturization and software versions and security.
As we use artificial intelligence more and more and depend
on machines for decision making, critical thinking becomes
more important. In particular topics like false positive results
and limits of detection. This was brought up earlier in a
misused when we apply statistics to test results. It indicates
that a given condition exists when in reality it does not.
This conclusion can many times result in unnecessary
testing and costs (both to clinical patients (anguish) and
The previous entry pointed out limits of detection series
by Deming. Two other notable contributions– one on being able
to compare quantities resulting from different methods (
My experience is where a physician recommends a
prescription for a chronic condition based on analyte
readings. The algorithm is designed to predict a per cent
likelihood of an outcome. However, the clinical testing
is much more complicated with false positives entering
the picture. Not all of the people have have a minimmum
value will reach that specific outcome. This is not
revealed in the analyte results.
This leads to needing to ask more questions of the
results and their “true meaning.” Often the physician
will not assess these critical elements leading to over-testing
and over prescribing.
After collaborating on a workshop I suggested to my
colleague that both of us contact the sponsor of
ours who recommended both of us for the role.
Within a day of the workshop I thanked AH for
suggesting me for a very positive experience in
the program. Included in the letter were brief positive
details and a sense that I look forward to working
together in the future.
Two things of significance, one reinforces the importance
and the other the timing of writing the thank you letter
at this time.
IMPORTANCE OF IN PERSON COMMUNICATION
In our present time, digital technology, through FB,
Tinder, MOOCs, texting, email tyranny and shallow
online activisim is argued to lose certain human strengths
Turkle says we have adopted new technologies to gain
control, only to feel controlled by them.
Letter writing is a lost art and there are commercial
interests advocating the positive aspects of making
an effort to relate personally to another individual.
This is just the opposite of getting fired by text
message and everyone at a dinner table texting
Interestingly, two people attending the workshop
contacted me afterwards and thanked me for helping
them find a position starting on their career path.
Those notes made all the difference!