Adventures in Ethics and Science

The pregame show has already started on the Acid vs d-orbitals game, but we’ve just received another set of predictions about this game and the Fossil Fuels vs. Erlenmeyer Flask match (hmm, should I say “match” there?) from the Molecule of the Day guy. Adjust your best accordingly!

Acid vs d-orbitals:

I have to agree with Derek Lowe – d orbitals for sheer utility. They inform huge swaths of chemical usefulness, notably in the case of metal catalysts. Acids might pull ahead for reasons of recognition, and the second row of the periodic table might be more comfortable territory to relative outsiders, but huge swaths of modern life depend in one way or another on transition metal catalysts – they find their way into organic synthesis, polymers, agriculture – and where transition metals are, d-orbitals aren’t far behind.

Fossil Fuels vs. Erlenmeyer Flask:

Erlenmeyers are icons of science and ubiquitous in stock photography, but it’s shocking to the uninitiated how often something else is the best thing for the job. They sit flat and they’re cheap, but you’re at least as likely to see an organic chemist using a round-bottomed flask and a biochemist using an Eppendorf or Falcon tube (or something else made of plastic). Not to say they don’t have (frequent) uses, but most of us on this side of the Atlantic use a gas-fueled car everyday. Further, you and I are probably wearing, eating, eating from, drinking, or drinking from something right now containing something that can thank some compound that once spent some of its life as part of oil. Fossil fuels pull ahead for me, too.

* * * * *
Keep an eye on the Science Spring Showdown Press Center to see how things develop.