UTC: Monday, July 23rd, 2018

Not an Organic Textbook – Part 2. AHAs and cosmetics

You can read more about the origin of this post, here. When it comes to nomenclature, organic chemistry is notoriously full of contradictions, historical accidents and anomalies. It is often very messy! I quite often write about this, for example, here and here. For a change, the informal IUPAC term, alpha hydroxy acid or AHA, […]

Not an Organic Textbook – Part 1. Poop, coffee, beer and deer

A few years ago, I spent a couple of years writing an organic chemistry textbook of sorts. I say ‘of sorts’, since it was aimed at a high school audience, so to call it a ‘textbook’ seems a little grandiose to say the least. If I’m honest, looking back it should have been obvious to […]

ChemSketch – Student’s first attempts 2016

Honestly I’m not a fan of sharing student work in general (I think that sharing has limited value) however this is one of the rare occasions I like to. Because I am so fond of ChemSketch, I like my Introduction to Organic Chemistry students to have a go and grapple with it. Each year I […]

Elephants, fentanyl, carfentanil and death in middle America

At the start of the school year in August of 2015, I read a number of stories (for example, here, here and here) about fentanyl, a drug that was apparently taking a terrible toll across Canada. Several of the stories described those most affected as, ‘middle-class, recreational drug users’. That phrase was supposed to point […]

The Organic Nomenclature Rabbit-Hole

Organic nomenclature questions can start off so innocently, then before one knows it, one has wasted more time than a 16 year old on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat combined. It all started off so simply. Originally, someone other than me, asked if a phenyl group attached to an eight carbon aliphatic chain should be […]

ChemSketch – Student’s first attempts 2015

Honestly I’m not a fan of sharing student work in general (I think that sharing has limited value) however this is one of the rare occasions I like to. Because I am so fond of ChemSketch, I like my Introduction to Organic Chemistry students to have a go and grapple with it. Each year I […]

Subscriber Updates (09-04-15)

Answers to Organic Worksheets 01b, 01c and 01d have been added.  

Pizza and more, mythical ‘molecules’

Don’t worry, I know this is not possible. It’s OK, I am (relatively) sane, however whenever I see a molecule in an unusual setting that’s either feasible, or in this case unfeasible, I am tempted to dig a little deeper. Sometimes that yields interesting results, sometimes it does not. In my experience, when dubious molecular […]

The Artist’s License – revoked (again)!

Alice Dreger (@AliceDreger) wrote a book. David Dobbs (@David_Dobbs) reviewed it in The New York Times. Klaas Verplancke (@klaasics) drew a picture to illustrate the review. Here is that picture. (I use it here without permission, but hope that everyone can be reasonable about my reproduction – please). Now that I have familiarized myself with […]

Tiny, deadly and related molecules

Over the course of the last few months, a small, very simple, quite well-known, and potentially deadly molecule has been in the news. If you are inclined to pay attention to such things, you may know that this simple molecule was responsible for these recent, frightening incidents; September 3rd, 2014: Fire at a Discovery Museum […]