Tuesday, 25 January 2011

A Minor Mistake a.k.a The Day I Spent The Afternoon Sulking

Unfortunately, nothing too much to write about today other than a minor mishap on my part this morning. I arrived with all the good intentions in the world about half 9 following a decent early morning session in the gym.
I had a mesylation to do so I find a procedure, crack out the triethylamine and mesyl chloride and chuck on a two hour reaction. Quench it, all is well. I add some acetone and bingo, lovely fluffy white crystals spontaneously appear. This is not the sort of thing I am used to currently and anything that avoids column chromatography is completely OK with me. As such, I proceed to show everyone my shiny crystals and may have made mutterings about certain people’s inferior abilities as chemists. I bounce off downstairs to the NMR room, run my spectra and up flashes a perfect spectra of… triethylamine hydrochloride. While irritating on its own, this was made all the more infuriating because this is not the first time I’ve made this very mistake. Cue laughter from everyone in the lab when I get out of the lift with that look on my face which shows I’ve either broken something or done something exceedingly stupid (both are semi-regular occurrences). As you can probably imagine, this put a slight dampener on the buoyant mood I was in when I arrived just a few hours earlier. 

Anyway, this afternoon a couple of guys arrived to fit fire extinguishers into some of our fumehoods (mine included) so actually doing anything in the lab was somewhat off-limits. Walking into the lab to see three months or so worth of crap from the back of my fumehood piled on my desk is enough to bring any chemist to his knees. As such, a swift exit was made. Following that, and seeing as there is only so much time I can spend aimlessly looking at papers before I go insane I spent a slightly extended lunch break (12 ‘til 2 is reasonable, right?) getting to grips with the complete enigma that is Twitter. You’ll now be able to see my tweets on the side of the page. Follow me if you’re that way inclined and I’ll post on there as and when I update here. I’ve also changed the settings here so you don’t have to sign in to comment on my posts. As always, any feedback good or bad is much appreciated!



  1. awesome blog so far, you earned yourself a high five!

  2. Been enjoying your blog so far, nice to know I'm not the only one who suffers from... less than ideal days in lab.

  3. Just dropped by after your twitter ... interesting, so far. Keep it up.

  4. lol I actually did that exact same thing my first year in the lab- no worries!

  5. I've done something similar to this. I had an amount of tiny white crystals precipitate after adding brine to my reaction mixture in DMF. That was as easy as a workup could possibly get, so I was quite happy until I got the NMR spectra... I learned a few things, though. First of all, apparently my product was soluble in water. Secondly, if a supposedly organic product is reasonably soluble only in D2O, of all deuterated solvents, it should set off a warning in one's brain. Thirdly, brine can be so saturated that any addition of water-miscible solvent will cause the salt to fall out of the solution. And finally, proton spectra of sodium chloride is even less satisfying to look at than that of triethylamine hydrochloride...