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Author: Subject: met with a pharmaceutical chemist, strange...
jgourlay
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[*] posted on 21-10-2010 at 06:27


I think it's an issue of age and maturity. The young guys are frequently full of themselves, incurious, with a sprinkle of plain lazy (ie, 8:30 to 4:00 and f'you if the project requires some night/weekend work). The operative quotes would be, "that's inorganic, I don't do that." and "it's time to go, I'll do it monday."

The middle age industrial chemists are invisible, until you come in late one evening and catch them actually talking to some blue collar guy. The two will be working together to solve a real problem you didn't even know was occurring.

The older industrial chemists can best be summed up as, "You're trying to do WHAT in your garage?!? Holy Crap!!! Listen, if you can grill a steak me and the wife'll come over Saturday night and show how not to burn the neighborhood down."
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psychokinetic
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[*] posted on 21-10-2010 at 12:25


Seems to be that a PhD doesn't mean being awesome anymore, it means getting a gold star to show off with. :(



“If Edison had a needle to find in a haystack, he would proceed at once with the diligence of the bee to examine straw after straw until he found the object of his search.
I was a sorry witness of such doings, knowing that a little theory and calculation would have saved him ninety per cent of his labor.”
-Tesla
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HydroCarbon
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[*] posted on 21-10-2010 at 14:17


Quote: Originally posted by psychokinetic  
Seems to be that a PhD doesn't mean being awesome anymore, it means getting a gold star to show off with. :(


Pretty much, yeah.
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majortom
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[*] posted on 22-10-2010 at 18:27


Wow I think I just touched a raw nerve, I diffidently see where you guys are coming from.

I found that the lower people are on the totem pole of chemistry the more useful and amiable they tend to be, also having much more disregard for safety. years ago I would discuss attempts to build a down's cell with my high school chem teachers, they were always enthusiastic about helping a teenager run enough electricity to kill themselves through molten sodium hydroxide. :) I remember one teacher who had us do a simple double displacement precipitation lab with us, When I asked why we were using K2Cr2O7 and Pb(NO3)2 instead of AgNO3 and NaCl because of toxicity concerns he told me "Because we can!" later he started talking about how the reaction of acetic anhydride and morphine works in great detail while he was passing out the acetic anhydride and salicylic acid for the old asprin lab.

I was looking through one of the many dictionary sized books that make up just one year of the journal of the American Chemical Society. Flipping through It you see so many esoteric reactions that have probably been forgotten long ago, the reagents involved are maddeningly obscure, it brings one to wonder what use they could ever be buried among thousands of other articles in just that one volume. You get sucked into it, that little niche becomes your world. the study becomes so specialized that you push the boundaries of human knowledge out just a little bit. Then people believe they are so great and have made so many advances, but in the big scheme of things it is just a drop in the bucket. Even a drop in the bucket does good, but it doeskin make you the messiah.

I always try to be very modest, back in high school when people saw me carrying around a college organic textbook from the 70's people would always come up and say I was a genius. That is a load of bull hockey. I read chemistry because I find it interesting. I go through the textbooks just like how most people read a novel. If I was a genius I would not have to read through some sections two or three times to understand them. Everyone has something they are really good and are passionate about, for some its ballet, painting, or eloquent speech, but for me it is chemistry. I am not any better at what I do than any of the others, Chemistry just seems a bit harder intellectually on the surface to most people.

The chemist is working on a radiolabled ligand and is actually a freelancer that a university in town hired. My uncle is a Phd (incidentally he is also a condescending dick) at this well known university. I generally try to tolerate his controlling nature because as long as I am on his good side it is a lot easier to get to use the University resources and staff. Plus It helps me get into the preliminary drug trials and psychology studies. (Gotta pay for my soxhlet thimbles somehow, Everyone jump on the naltrexone express!)
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zed
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[*] posted on 22-10-2010 at 21:02


O. Chem, has matured through thousands (perhaps even hundreds of thousands), of incremental advances.

The guys were plenty smart, and there have been a lot of them. Each successful chemist.... building upon the discoveries of thousands that went before.

Reading a chapter two or three times, in an attempt to properly understand it......Is completely Einstein-ian.

That idea that genius, is somehow indicated by instant understanding, is incorrect.

Genius, by definition, doesn't mean quickly understanding the theories that others have set forth as being fact............It means bumbling into your own theories.

The root Gen-, means....Create. In this regard, there are folks with tested IQs of 200, who are totally devoid of genius. Boring bastards too.

Meanwhile, seemingly clueless hippie-types like Allen Ginsberg, awaken from fevered dreams, in the middle of the night, and dazedly scribble out haunting works of art that captivate millions.

In another example, an under-qualified, unobtrusive, loser patent clerk, ponders strangely thought out problems, and the conclusions to his ponderings, eventually turn the world of physics upside down.
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HydroCarbon
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[*] posted on 23-10-2010 at 10:23


@majortom

What you said above really has much truth. For us people to whom chemistry is a hobby, we tend to appreciate it more and not just view it as a career path or way to make money. We also tend to want to share it with other people. I would be willing to bet that the majority of these jerk-off phds and other hotshots in the chemical field really just view chemistry as a career path, and don't really have an intrinsic interest in chemistry.
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entropy51
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[*] posted on 23-10-2010 at 11:06


Quote: Originally posted by HydroCarbon  
I would be willing to bet that the majority of these jerk-off phds and other hotshots in the chemical field really just view chemistry as a career path, and don't really have an intrinsic interest in chemistry.
There are easier ways to get rich. Few people make it through to a doctorate without serious interest in the subject.

I am quite amazed by how quickly intelligent people are willing to generalize from one person to a group of tens of thousands.
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DJF90
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[*] posted on 23-10-2010 at 11:55


I greee with entropy. I know several people taking a masters in chemistry with little interest and the intention of going into banking. Why? Because the skills are transferable. Personally, if I was that way inclined I'd choose an easier subject, it just seems like an incredible waste of knowledge if it'l never be used.
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madscientist
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[*] posted on 23-10-2010 at 11:58


Quote: Originally posted by entropy51  

I am quite amazed by how quickly intelligent people are willing to generalize from one person to a group of tens of thousands.


All Americans generalize!




I weep at the sight of flaming acetic anhydride.
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Magpie
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[*] posted on 23-10-2010 at 13:25


I could equally say all people generalize about Americans, but that would be generalizing too.

Not in this case, but generalizing can sometimes be very important, like when you have to make quick decisions.




The single most important condition for a successful synthesis is good mixing - Nicodem
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HydroCarbon
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[*] posted on 23-10-2010 at 13:29


I suppose that since these people did choose the path of chemistry then they do have some interest in the subject. However, to clarify my point, the way our professional society is set up [ideally] people choose a field, study the subject, then work applying what they learned. Many people that choose chemistry do this and only treat chemistry as a profession, not a hobby. These people wouldn't read a chemistry text for fun or personal enrichment, these people don't do chemistry at home. They treat it strictly as a profession. This is, in my opinion, what separates the majority of scientists from the people who truly love what they do.

I've met a good number of professional scientists, and I've gone to college for chemistry. The people that truly love chemistry and practice it for personal enjoyment are far and few, most people in the field keep it as a professional relationship. And while there are certainly no hard lines defining these types of people, I feel confident in my generalization that most people involved in professional chemistry don't hold the same passion for the science that most of the people on this board do.

Furthermore, I don't see any problem in making generalizations. I recognize the complexity of society and human personality, but at the same time generalizing things allows you to see the bigger picture and make rough observations that can then be zoomed in on for further study.

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