01 August 2007

The differences between Computational Chemistry and Laboratory Chemistry

So, for this week, I've been spending the majority of my time on another floor of the chemistry building here at the universität, partly because I want to learn about as much chemistry as I can and partly because everyone is going crazy over preparations for the ACS meeting in Boston.

On this floor is the group of Prof. Holthausen, who does mainly computational chemistry. It should be noted that computational chemistry is different than theoretical chemistry with computation -- it would appear that the latter is mainly concerned with developing tools for chemistry but not the actual application of those tools/development of methodology of those tools for chemical applications. As such, these folks actually know something about the chemical reactions I encounter in lab.

I've mainly been brushing up on my Linux commands and learning to use programs like Gaussian and such. It's pretty neat.

Here are the main differences between doing the "soft-work" and the "wet-work":
1. They have substantially better coffee down here, I think. I can't really taste the difference, but it smells different and their machine seems to have some degree of robotic implementation in it.
2. Their chairs are also substantially better. This makes sense, and is probably a consequence of the amount of time they spend sitting. It's like a nice break in here.
3. The degree of weirdness seems to increase, which seems to follow the rather normal correllation of weirdness to proximity of computers. It should be noted that this correllation does not follow for proximity to chemistry, unlike in the states. Most of the people I know who do real science tend to be a little weird, with the possible exception of biologists. Yet, everyone here in AK Wagner is not -- in fact, I know they have real lives outside of lab. They just happen to be tired all the time.


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