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.
Interesting observations in several fields that touch
on scientific realm are offered in this post.
One of the subtopics we cover in our Professional
Development course is LCA or Life Cycle Assessment
in our class on ethics.
While preparing for a seminar on Overcoming Challenges and
Adversity, several items are worth highlighting for our blog.
We have brought up Mlodinow’s book, Subliminal, that offers
that human’s memory faculties are faulty. One suggestion is to
create a research notebook for yourself– it could be new business
ideas, new research projects, new and improved products…
Three top line topics have appeared this year:
1) Evolving trends in technical careers
2) Professional Behaviors that can help you
3) High Need for New Division in ACS– Economics
and Chemistry [Not only short periodic webinars that
are at 30,000 foot level and CEPA]
-Learning to Say “No”
-Listening Skills Activities of a Listener
-Trust Highest form of Motivation
Elements of Communication
-Ethics Legal elements
As we look to intersecting fields with the chemical enterprise,
photonics continues to make enormous strides. Related
fields include optomechanics [interaction of EM radiation and
mechanical vibrations], opto-atomics [in precision time-keeping,
metrology, etc.], and polaritonics [carrier is polariton].
Genome, proteome, epigenome, metabolome,
pharmacogenome and dozens of other fields of study involve
chemistry. They all relate informally to the characterization
of molecular entities in biological fields translating into the
structure, function and dynamics of organisms.
Do you feel amazed each time you read about new advances
where one of the fundamental components is optical? I am.
Optical fabrication and materials play a central role in many
things we do– practical every day, engineering and scientific.
We have a new competitor in science, technology and
engineering fields. It is the Internet, computers and
automation. We can be competitive in our careers if
we can do things that computers and robots are not
best at– creativity, originality, developing new
If you are like I am you were taken by the news that
three Irish investigators reported interpreting the
behavior of light’s angular momentum. It goes back
many years when lasers were originally reported and
how many important devices and technologies are
based on stimulated emission.
NON-INTEGER ANGULAR MOMENTUM LIGHT
Ballantine et al have reported that light may be
characterized with a different property than wavelength.
INFLUENCE OF NEW TECHNOLOGY ON HIGH
John Comley surveyed the field and projects where
developments and advances will come in computational
biology especially using confocal imaging where
CRISPR-Ca9 technology will be exploited.
Since Julian Assange opened access to critical files and
espionage, it was only a matter of time when we would
see wide spread hacking of scientific literature. While we
do not and are not condoning hacking a recent report tells of
amazing hacking of scientific journals.
We share an article which talks about tips for professional
telecommuting and virtual meeting/interviewing. While we
have entered previously on this topic, a couple of elements
are true and new.
Then, I looked at a nice “Acing the interview” presentation.
The speaker gave some insight that I share as preparation
for taking interviews.
HACKING SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE
SOURCE: A. Staller, Open Access vs. illegal Access ECS
A grad student in Kazakhstan presumably released hundreds
of scientific journal articles. While many have come out
arguing that the current model limits scientific progress in
the Internet age, this could accelerate the process of open
Yet, it remains to be seen how a justifiable income stream
can come from open access models. Perhaps the music
model on the internet may find its way into scientific
literature for the masses.
SOURCE: WSJ 3-18-16 “Rules of etiquette for virtual
While it is a common trick for interviews, this article points out
it is improper etiquette to not know all the attendees/observers
in a virtual meeting. The “who just joined beeps” are unwanted
distractions and finding a way to say you are leaving a meeting,
via announcement or texting to or having another cover announce
your imminent return.
PREPARATION FOR INTERVIEWS
SOURCE: I. Bloch, Ace the Interview, Strategies
She does cover the usual story telling strategies, STAR, and
background research (salaries, glassdoor, connections,
grooming, good questions, and more), what comes out of
this webinar is
(1) in US you have to promote yourself,
(2) identify what separates yourself from other applicants,
(3) come up with three 3 strengths and be able to insert
them at appropriate points
(4) on weaknesses, avoid identifying a core competency issue
for the positions
Amazing new insights about working in the world of science and
technology poured out of a meeting last week while I was working
on other things.
They are so thoughtful and inspiring it is worth sharing them
and making the case that smaller (boutique) societies have
incredible value. What they aim to do is look for the unmet
needs of the larger, very topic oriented (silos of sub-disciplines).
They seek out the intersections of fields and the forefronts of
research often outside of the realm of the larger industrial
On reflection, three outstanding findings are shared in this
contribution about SlAS2016: insights into resistance to
drug therapies of diseases (cancers and ’superbugs’), crowdfunding
research, and tackling high risk, never performed team projects
with unknown outcomes.
Shana Kelley of UToronto reported chip based microfluidic
devices using electrochemical assays to identify the bacteria
to know the proper therapies to apply. Each year it is
estimated that 2 million US cases of antibiotic resistant
infections, which can be caused by over use of prescription
drugs or employing the wrong agent for the infection.
An assay of redox active molecules that measures the levels
of metabolically active bacteria it the telling step in the device.
Anecdotally, having a tool like this available 90 years ago might
have saved Calvin Coolidge’s younger son.
Michael Gottesmann of NCI spoke about drug resistance found
during cancer treatment that involve at least four different
mechanisms: target mutation, genetic mutation, cell type
changes and alterations of physiology (of blood or organs).
Cell models do not model in vivo gene expression. calls for
coordinated treatment regimens of multiple mechanisms.
K Tom Pickard presented the case for a different research
sponsorship model that uses — “be viable or vanish”. He cited
how this is becoming a viable approach to deal with shortfalls
in resources and seek out other sources that can have a
purposeful, entrepreneurial or doing the right thing motivation.
His primary focus is autism and he reported on use of
twitter, social media and kickstarter/ experiment.com .
Teamwork to achieve high risk goals
Adam Steitzner amazed the audience with the story of landing the
Mars Rover on the surface of Gale Crater to answer the question
of whether there was/is life on Mars… 100 million miles away.
- Separate people from ideas
- Lunch with Enrico
Get to know and like all the people you work with
- Plan to change plans
- Many times the answers we seek are in the questions
Challenge all assumptions
Research leading to beneficial outcomes in chemically
related work is highlighted in this entry. Each of them
provide opportunities whose long term value for
investors, for society and for technical careers is
not clear. Nonetheless, it is a signature of this
blog to present such ideas.
EBOLA MEMBRANE PROTEINS BINDING
Ebola continues to strike humans as a resurfacing
public health risk in Africa. GENEngNews carries
an article by Gail Dutton that describes epitope
mapping work leading to antibodies for potential
vaccines and therapies.
QUATERNARY PROTEIN STRUCTURE
What I appreciated about GENEngNews article on
proteins was the practical outcomes that 92% of
known studied structures are described by a classification
scheme, 4% of which appear to be misclassified.
Having a model now allows the development of simple rules
of possible assembly types and the mechanisms, pathways
and self-assembly influences.
Implications for bioengineering and for exploring non-
systematic observations are mentioned. While much of
the above information is given in CEN of 12-18. It would
be nice to see authoritative commentary on the model. and
the PubMed (free) link. This is an example of interdisciplinary
work spurred by results of mass spectrometry studies.
THORIUM NUCLEAR POWER
There is a new series in Netflix that starts with global
warming leading to the EU to stop the flow of petroleum
and point out the development of Th nuclear energy.
The Economist talked about this recently. Most
critical discussion I have discovered was in the comments
to the Economist article that revealed the technological
roadblock, some attempts at remedies and suggesting
possible more successful nuclear energy fuel sources
might be developed.
Been reading Phillip Tetlock’s book “Superforecasters” since predicting
what will happen is something we often like to do in science. As Charles
Kettering once said about his interest in the future ‘because the rest of
his life’ will be spent there.
Forecasting is hard work and can be learned. People who do it well,
Tetlock opines, have a strong interest in information, a willingness to
adjust to new data, an ability to synthesize a view from various
perspectives, like a ‘dragonfly’s eye.’ They also pay attention to their
prediction compared to the actual result to learn from.
A rough process outline includes
1.’unpacking’ the question into components
2.distinguish between the known and unknown, while not leaving
3.assess the question from an objective ‘outside viewpoint’
4.put the problem into a comparative perspective, which downplays its
uniqueness and treats it as a special case
5.explore others’ predictions for similarities and differences
6.pay attention to broader predictions from wider sources [wisdom
7.synthesize the information and compare to actual, learning what
can be done to improve
The singularity where technological intelligence overtakes human abilities
is predicted to be in 2030 [Vinge ] and 2045 [Kurzweil ].
Interesting competitions in forecasting provide events for evolving
Years ago, I attended a futuristic talk about the hydrogen
economy before it was “in fashion.” This post links to
an important environmental article discussing safe handling
New material science and surprising properties of
light are reported in a recent issue in the photonics
Open Science publication from the ACS comes with
SAFE HANDLING: HYDROGEN
SOURCE L. Gallagher, American Laboratory September,
2015, P. 14, “Safe Handling of Hydrogen in the Laboratory“
In addition to materials of construction, design and
specific procedures, inert gas handling facilities
are essential to purge and dilute and gas monitoring
protections and alarms must be installed and tested
regularly. See also safe handling procedures.
Hydrogen based micro-economies will emerge just as
Tesla charging stations are proliferating.
SOURCE: Photonics Spectra, Sept. 2015
Graphene can be functionalized into a light emitter
by strategic incorporation of boron. Nano-optics and
Spin properties of light are also highlighted in recent
issue photonics Spectra.
SOURCES: Interview with C. Bertozzi
Table of Contents
Carolyn Bertozzi is a visible leader who heads
organizations and publications and presents her
case of pursuing careers in chemistry. Here also
is a notable effort in an open access journal. Wish
to see more of this as it is the wave of the future
and a way that society publications can compete
with commercial publications.
Let me tell you about a recent exchange with a job seeker.
He asked, ‘hey what do you think of hirelifesciences?’ To
which my response was, ‘Sorry, that is not one I have worked
with. When I visited it I noticed it lists companies and
locations, but I did not see how people are compensated,
how recent the listings are and the business relationship
to client companies (is it part of a society, for example).’
I went on to describe websites listed in the blog left column
and indicated that most jobs are not advertised. They are
found through networking and direct contact with people.
I recently heard about a field that may have large impact–CRISPR.
Take a look at a short video worth our learning about. Related
information for job seekers is a business article on firms
involved in this business. Did you notice how the idea connections
were made– not through a google search or a screening of lists
of positions, but through making business-technology-career
Have you seen the series of unsolved scientific mysteries in
The Economist? Each of the six reveal factoids connected to
a lead story in fascinating stories. Here are the first four
BEGINNING OF LIFE
MORE THAN ONE UNIVERSE?
DARK MATTER/ COMPOSITION OF UNIVERSE
CAUSE OF “LIFE EMERGENCE”
Their challenge is to paint an interesting landscape to a
broad readership. One, these should be interesting topics to us.
Two, there is something to learn in how the stories are told and
illustrated. Third, if there is some way to connect our work to
these articles it provides a nice context to our work.
Negotiation Process was the topic of last week’s seminar.
Interesting possible items that might be considered were:
school loan repayment (Federal positions offer this) and “fair and
reasonable compensation” when a new position has higher deductible
insurances or rates. See Barb Safani. It is critical to consider the
“overall” compensation package and implications of bonuses and
incentives on taxes.
If you are asked to sign documents, you could inquire if they
will compensate you for having your lawyer review it for you.
We do not see it but we expect remote control and
digital data access connected through wireless devices.
This provides challenges, opportunities and a need for
perceptive awareness for each of us.
One of the journals that I receive is Interface which
contains startling in-depth technical reading for a
general technical audience. Several top-tier articles
on energy conversion and electrochemical production
of essential feedstocks. There are several catching
articles worth perusing, from which I highlight one
on ammonia. It is far more than just headlining
A continuing debate among scientists and engineers,
innovators and inventors is the role of patents in
progress. While not part of most graduate and post-
graduate training and more importantly reading, a
deeper awareness of the patent realm is highlighted.
HETNETS, 5G CONNECTIVITY IN YOUR FUTURE
SOURCE: Fortune Ad Section August, 2015, p-51-3
PCIA informed us of amazing transformations happening
in our lives as we carry and use portable remote control
and communications devices with us. A ten-fold increase
in global “traffic” is expected in four years.and we will
all be affected. So it is “join us or get out of the way.”
Software is replacing custom hardware in creating
HETNETS heterogeneous networks and robust remote
applications, like surgery, is being conceived.
View PCIA webpage for more.
OPEN ACCESS PUBLICATION: AMMONIA
SOURCE: Interface Summer 2015, 53ff
J. Renner, L. Greenlee, A. Herring K. Ayers,
“Electrochemical Synthesis of Ammonia: A Low
Among the many things we see emerging are open
access publications of high technical merit like
the ECS journal, Interface. One stalwart article
in this quarter’s issue is on the “mastery of nitrogen”.
The article brings together President Millard Fillmore
state of the union address, BASF’s Bosch Haber
process and selective catalysts to point out where
chemistry can make a difference in reducing where 1%
of all energy is used and 3% of all greenhouse gases
See, for up coming article sourced above.
SOURCE: The Economist 8-8-15, p. 11
“Time to fix patents“
After defining what patents are and are not, hearing
many sides of the controversial issues of patent
protection and legal rights might be a good place
for people not versed in this important technical
topic to read and study.
The Economist offered a slanted journalist article
to shine light on an everlasting topic. The comments
to the article reveal a much more complicated, many
sided landscape, even including some interesting
innovations in the European patent system.
In March 2015 this blog shared links to organs on chips
devices Donald Ingbar presented in Washington in
his plenary talk. This entry points to a link to work
on several organs-on-chips, leading to bodies-on-chips
which could model bodies responses to radiological
and biological attacks.
Applications of an amazing isotopic phenomenon
of heavy element clumping has received more attention
and being used to explore scientific questions.
SOURCE: The Economist, 6-13-15, P.75,”Towards a
Chips not containing full organs, but small colonies of
cells that replicate organ functions are being developed,
They may provide a physical test bed containing biochemical
and physical environments. DARPA the article indicates
requests work on as many as ten organ model systems to
pursue nuclear and biological incident studies on small
ISOTOPE CLUMPING AND ISOTOPOLOGUES
SOURCES: “What are clumped isotopes“
“Photosynthesis studies using clumped isotopes.“
“Effects of Brine Chemistry and polymorphism on isotope
Did you know that lower temperatures favor the formation
of heavier isotope combination molecules than based on
random combinations of natural isotope ratios. John Eiler
is credited with rationalizing this insight. This might
have applications in biogeochemistry, Rice researchers
Aerodyne Research reports a tool for clumped ion measurement.
Several years ago THz spectroscopy was brought to my attention
as an emerging field for research and application. While it may
be years in the future when WiFi routers and cellphones use THz,
recent work points to medical imaging and security screening
Photonics reported making plasmonic filters with inkjet printers
for telecommunication signal enhancement. A site to
learn more about THz domain is the RPI Center.
Metamaterials are fabricated materials not present in nature
designed to have specific properties based on their structure.
Work on these fabricated materials is interdisciplinary and
is undergoing development in correlating linear and
nonlinear properties. Emerging devices will make use
of higher order harmonic generation.
Wireless internet hotspots are reported to be
organized with LED light fixtures that have cost and
reliability advantages over WiFi in certain environments.
Test kits are available from the Fraunhofer institute
that is creating visible light communication systems.