Friday, July 8, 2011

Pop quiz

Here's SeeArrOh and CJ's job application for a position at Sapling Learning (online chemistry education):

1. Math Skills: The volume of a cylinder 8 meters high, with diameter 3 m, is?

a. Wait, is it a liquid or a solid?
b. Easy.  Integrate pi * (1.5)^2 over from 0-8xdx
c. I'm a chemist.  All higher math skills past algebra are gone.

2. Compound ID: Mystery compound has one signal at -49 ppm by 19F, an m/z of 2896.4, and 137 signals by 13C.  What is it?

a. Mono-Mosher's ester of palytoxin.
b. Some polymer.  I dunno.  Will this be on the test?

3. Lab: If a hot plate you are using suddenly stops working, what do you do?

a. Blame your lab partner.
b. Hit it with a wrench.
c. Turn it off, then on again.  Or buy a new one.

4. Social Interaction: You'd like to propose to that special someone, but how?

a. Flowers, chocolates, and a diamond ring.
b. Sailing out on the harbor, soft music, at sunset.
c. Ask her to wait another three years until you finish school, then a "quick" postdoc, and then save up the money.

5. Ethics: Katey is a first-year synthetic graduate student. While trying to set up an E2 elimination, Katey realizes that the group no longer has any KOtBu, and her solvent is too wet without prior distillation. Should Katey:

a. Order the reagents next day and cancel her plans tonight to set up the distillation?
b. Steal from another group's supplies?
c. Go home and think about Law School?

6. Safety: If you see a fellow student setting up an unsafe reaction, you should:

a. kindly inform them of their mistakes.
b. yell at them until they change their ways.
c. find a good seat to watch the show.

7. Stoichiometry: You're setting up the TBS protection of a secondary alcohol. How much imidazole should you add?

a. 0.9 equivalents.
b. 1.1 equivalents -- it's just to mop up the HCl generated.
c. Just keep addin'.

8. Research Integrity: You can't reproduce a key experiment. You should:

a. try the experiment again.
b. slink away, and not tell anyone.
c. publish the most optimistic result and hope for the best.

9. Mechanism: You can't explain a mechanism without catalytic amounts of water. You should:

a. Karl-Fischer your solvents.
b. Ignore the result -- nothing's really that dry, is it?
c. Assume endogenous water.

10. Safety: You're really hungry and you need a key result before group meeting. You should:

a. get that reaction set up, and then go eat.
b. eat at your desk, next to your hood.
c. Run the column with one hand while munching on your cheeseburger with the other.

Key: Of course, all c, baby.


  1. Somewhat off the topic of this post, but still "fun", check out the list of journal articles here:

    One of them, the second one, has some rather curious author names, such as Wei Cun See Too.
    Think it's legit? I have my doubts, since this
    is a journal you pay to publish your stuff.

  2. WCST has an e-mail address; I'm tempted to say it's real, but some of those names border on the stereotypical.

  3. My boss once showed me a chemistry paper from a guy named Dikshit. Apparently it is a fairly common last name in India. I bet they laugh at our names too: I was told by a chemist from University of Lund in Sweden - that Lund means phallus in Hindi.

  4. I had a student whose name apparently means "the chastise blossom" in Chinese, but her folks transliterated it to "Suck Me". Thank goodness she can also be referred to by another name.

  5. I ran into a paper with an Indian author with the unfortunate first name of Swastika. I know there's some history there in India, but...


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20