|Just in case you didn't know (I didn't):|
Vanadium 2+, 3+, 4+ and 5+
Unfortunately, academic credentials are an inadequate preparation for this sort of career. The universities and colleges have de-emphasized analytical chemistry and, in particular, classical analytical chemistry. And descriptive inorganic chemistry has largely been replaced by theory. While these changes may serve larger needs, they have hurt certain pragmatic concerns, among them, metals analysis. It is entirely possible that an individual may be awarded a Ph.D. in chemistry and have no idea of the colors of vanadium ion in aqueous solution. This observations is not meant to reflect on individual achievement, academic standards, or the quality of academic programs, but simply to illustrate that industry's perhaps parochial concerns are not being met. [This comes later than the next passage - CJ.]
Which leads us finally to the raison d'etre of this book. The last quarter of the twentieth century has witnessed a prodigious loss of classical analytical chemistry lore from the industrial workplace. I have used the word "lore" advisedly, because other aspects of this discipline - theory, good laboratory practices, and specific methods - can still be extracted from public, university and industrial libraries. But with the exception of a few long-out-of-print and somewhat dated texts, there is no sources from which to learn the thinking and manipulative skills that makes a classical analyst. "Lore" also implies a degree of art that must accompany the science -- the things that work even though their chemistry is poorly understood.* But the unfortunate fact is that most of the lore that has been lost as wet labs were closed and classical analysts were retired without replacement. As we have seen, these decisions have been short-sighted and potentially disastrous.
*The notion of lore is not new to science, nor is it antiscience. Rather, it precedes science. How many lives have been saved, for example, by drugs whose mode of action is only dimly understood?
An equally disturbing trend is the recent spread into industry laboratories of a dogma, widely held by lawyers and bureaucrats, that any human act, no matter how involved and complex, can be precisely specified in a written set of instructions. This credo is patently false, as anyone who reflects a moment on the works of man can plainly see. That is why there is only one Sistine Chapel ceiling, why all violins do not sound like a Stradivarius, and why open heart surgery is not offered as a correspondence school course. The simple fact is that no written protocol, even when the last "t" is crosses and the last "i" is dotted, can ever reduce the analyst to that hypothetical "pair of hands" -- a cheap, readily available, ultimately disposable "human resource," in the ultimate implication of that term. Well-written analytical procedures, such as ASTM standard methods are, of course, indispensable recipes, but one does not become a great chef, or even a good cook, by reading recipes.