Skip to main content

Yes, It's Old News, But

... a scientific scandal, involving a woman who received a chemistry Ph.D. at august Columbia University, and was a candidate for a Ph.D. in molecular biology at Heidelberg University in Germany, only recently came to my attention. Here's a photo of the Columbia Quad.

Image result for columbia university

The story is so fascinating that even the date of the investigative documents involved (2010) can't keep me from going over the ground here.

 Here's a link, for those who want to go further into the matter than I plan to go here: https://pubs.acs.org/cen/science/89/8932sci1.html.

Because federal grant money was involved, the HHS Department's Office of Research Integrity did a thorough review of the matter.

The culprit, Bengu Sezen, claimed to have developed a way of selectively activating C-H bonds. Think of the words "hydrocarbon" and "carbohydrates" and you have two good reasons for caring about the C-H bonds.

The selective activation of C-H bonds continues to be an active field of research. Alas, Sezen's claims to progress were an utter dead end.

One picturesque detail to arise out of the fraud: Sezen used correction fluid, ordinary "white out," to fake laboratory results, removing certain peaks in a spectrum read-out that didn't meet her hypothesis.

What fascinates me? Well, to begin, that white out. That's something I know. I don't really know what "to selectively activate C-H bonds" means. I'm not sure why it is considered tough to do so. I have no idea what the spectrum resulting from an experiment on the subject should look like. I'm a terrible ignoramus. BUT ... I know what correction fluid looks like and have used more than my share!

That this is a scandal about work on C-H bonds also reminds me in an odd way of the Velikovsky controversy of the '60s. Regular readers of this blog may know that the Velikovsky controversy is something of a "thing" for me.

One point I remember from reading about IV's theories: the passing of a celestial body close to Earth was supposed to explain the raining of "manna" while the Jews were in the wilderness. Why? Well ... one skeptic explained, such an event (if it had occurred) might explain the entry of hydrocarbons into the atmosphere, and Velikovsky might simply have confused hydrocarbons with carbohydrates. One C-H bond with another. So he might have thought he had a naturalistic explanation BOTH of the manna AND of "fire and brimstone" from the heavens. Killing both of those birds with the same astronomical stone.

Okay, too much free association.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Cancer Breakthrough

Hopeful news in recent days about an old and dear desideratum: a cure for cancer. Or at least for a cancer, and a nasty one at that.

The news comes about because investors in GlaxoSmithKline are greedy for profits, and has already inspired a bit of deregulation to boot. 

The FDA has paved the road for a speedy review of a new BCMA drug for multiple myeloma, essentially cancer of the bone marrow. This means that the US govt has removed some of the hurdles that would otherwise (by decision of the same govt) face a company trying to proceed with these trials expeditiously. 

This has been done because the Phase I clinical trial results have been very promising. The report I've seen indicates that details of these results will be shared with the world on Dec. 11 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology. 

The European Medicines Agency has also given priority treatment to the drug in question. 

GSK's website identifies the drug at issue as "GSK2857916," althou…

A Story About Coleridge

This is a quote from a memoir by Dorothy Wordsworth, reflecting on a trip she took with two famous poets, her brother, William Wordsworth, and their similarly gifted companion, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.



We sat upon a bench, placed for the sake of one of these views, whence we looked down upon the waterfall, and over the open country ... A lady and gentleman, more expeditious tourists than ourselves, came to the spot; they left us at the seat, and we found them again at another station above the Falls. Coleridge, who is always good-natured enough to enter into conversation with anybody whom he meets in his way, began to talk with the gentleman, who observed that it was a majestic waterfall. Coleridge was delighted with the accuracy of the epithet, particularly as he had been settling in his own mind the precise meaning of the words grand, majestic, sublime, etc., and had discussed the subject with William at some length the day before. “Yes, sir,” says Coleridge, “it is a majestic wate…

Hume's Cutlery

David Hume is renowned for two pieces of cutlery, the guillotine and the fork.

Hume's guillotine is the sharp cut he makes between "is" statements and "ought" statements, to make the point that the former never ground the latter.

His "fork" is the division between what later came to be called "analytic" and "synthetic" statements, with the ominous observation that any books containing statements that cannot be assigned to one or the other prong should be burnt.

Actually, I should acknowledge that there is some dispute as to how well or poorly the dichotomy Hume outlines really maps onto the analytic/synthetic dichotomy. Some writers maintain that Hume meant something quite different and has been hijacked. Personally, I've never seen the alleged difference however hard they've worked to point it out to me.

The guillotine makes for a more dramatic graphic than a mere fork, hence the bit of clip art above.

I'm curious whe…