Apr 262016
Sexy Science Party

We are told as scientists to engage with the public. We are told to make our science “sexy” and relevant to a general audience. For some, that’s easy. Their science is naturally appealing to the public and their research has a simple but futuristic sounding application, like everlasting toilet paper or a contact lens that detects evil. The problem is, here are the things the general public google:

  1. Justin Bieber
  2. Sex
  3. Ice Bucket Challenge
  4. Boobs
  5. Robots
  6. IPhones
  7. How to be lazy and not fat
  8. Twerking
  9. Cats
  10. The lyrics from the famous song in Aladdin

For most scientists, it’s hard to make that small but important discovery sound like you’ve just solved the world’s erection problems. This is where the media department of a university can come in handy. They’re able to take any research from any field and write an article to make you sound like the savior of mankind. Science, which is the the systematic application of knowledge based on evidence, is not allowed to overstate it’s findings in papers. On the other hand, scientists are more than happy to get their 15 minutes of fame and nod along as the journalists ask: “could your findings be used to create a whole new world to be viewed from a magic carpet?”. Are we so desperate to get the names of our universities in glossy print, alongside the photoshopped image of Katy Perry, that we are are okay with stretching the truth to the point of lying?

Every scientist can become indoctrinated by their own research. We have to tell funding bodies how awesome out research is, and if you keep telling people how awesome you are, at some point you’ll probably start to believe it too. Unfortunately, just like J. Lo’s left buttock, just because you see it in the newspaper it doesn’t mean it’s real.

To help all budding researchers and media whores, here is a list of applications that will help you grab your the attention of your audience. Note: doesn’t have to be an actual application of your research.

  • Cancer Cure (particulary childhood cancer in orphans)
  • Iron man (or any robot super hero)
  • Longer lasting (insert anything here)
  • Invisibility cloak (perverts)
  • Helping cute dogs (obviously)
Apr 212016
Coral bleaching and simon cowell

Much like most of their policies, the Australian government’s position on the preservation of the Great Barrier Reef is outdated.

The Australian government has enlisted the help of Simon Cowell to reinvent the reef. As part of the proposed plan, the 6,000 year old reef will undergo a makeover to attract a younger demographic. Starting with the recently announced, and successful, large scale bleaching of its coral, the plan extends to dressing sea life in stonewashed denim and lace chokers. The Australian Prime Mister, Malcolm Turnbull, has stated that this excellent $20 million new image will help the reef connect with “the younger generation” and encourage teenage girls all over the country to put posters of the reef up on their walls and flock to the reef to scream at it. When asked about the changes, local teenager Amy Chofacer said “yeah, nah, what?”.

Parts of the reef will be doing an Australian tour later in the year to reach rural areas. Whilst this will inevitably kill the touring denim-clad members, the tour is expected to increase the reefs fan base by approximately 200 fans. Tourism Queensland are confident that the changes will make Simon Cowell very rich and, in combination with the proposed increase in global temperatures, will ensure that the sale of water-based merchandise will sky rocket.

Apr 172016
motivatinal presentation grey

Initially, presenting science and research to your peers and experts feels incredibly intimidating. Imagine looking out at a room full of wobbly necked professors who don’t quite understand what it is to feel the embrace of another human being, and then having to tell them stuff that, sometimes, you don’t really understand yourself. It can feel like everyone is judging how clever you are, and you can’t help but be overcome with a sense that the majority of the audience is thinking “This person is as stupid as their university’s PowerPoint template”.

Don’t worry, the audience’s sense of self-importance overpowers their ability to concentrate on you and your presentation for very long at all. In fact, the audience want the same thing as you: to get through your presentation in the allotted time and eat or drink whatever is being served during the next break.

It is for his reason that you’ll need to up your game and hold your audience’s attention throughout your presentation. Strangely, the presentations that I remember are not from their awesome science but a series of strange events such as, the guy who screamed into the lectern microphone for 20 mins, the guy who never turned off his laser pointer and constantly waved it across the audience, a key note address that was essentially a magic show and another key note from a professor who seemed absolutely baffled by every slide they put up. Now that I think of it, I remember what each presentation was about, so I guess it worked.

To help you give a memorable-for-all-right-reasons presentation I have put together my top tips:

  1. Your job is not to make us think “I didn’t understand a thing, this person must be so much more clever than me”. Your job is to make us understand every single slide and follow your story. You want people to ask questions at the end of your talk. If there are no questions, you have lost your audience at some point. If the thought of questions scares the shit out of you, quietly excuse yourself by saying “I have worms and need to take my tablets now”.
  2. Don’t fill the slides with words. The reason I’m at your presentation is so you can tell me about what you are doing. I don’t want to power read your research. Use the slides to support the words that fall out of your mouth. If you need prompts plant a friend in the audience to shout key words at you like an actor who has forgotten their lines.
  3. Acceptable fonts include everything other than comics sans and wingdings because you are not a 5 year old girl or a cryptologist.
  4. It doesn’t matter how important you think you are, I’m looking at you professors. We don’t want to sit through 20 redundant slides while you find the one you want to talk about. Sort that shit out before you stand up. Give a practice presentation to someone with acute epilepsy. If your quick succession of slides induce an epileptic seizure, you’ve fucked it up.


Apr 112016

Ask any scientist how their research is going and, after they have stopped day dreaming about what it would be like to have a stable job, you’ll normally get an answer which alludes to “I’m dead inside and there aren’t enough drugs in my body for me to be able to lie to you” or put another way “fine thanks”.

Scientific progress is slow, painful (at least for those at the lab bench) and sometimes soul destroying.  Scientists will spend days/months/years repeating failed experiments or conducting iterations of the same experiment just so they can publish that next paper. Just like a slot machine, with enough persistence and luck, science will occasionally reward you with a payout. The payout takes the form of a piece of data that you can take to your supervisor and shout in their face “THERE IT IS, IS THIS WHAT YOU WANTED?” to which they will respond “why are you in my house so late and who let you in?”

Why then, if failure is one of the main themes of science, do we not build resilience into our budding scientists? Even undergraduate experiments are set up to always succeed. This does nothing to actually prepare young people for a career as a scientist. All this teaches prospective scientists is that science is fun and always works – ask any PhD student what they think of science and I am certain that the word fun will not feature. Science is rewarding, sure, but most of the time it is definitely not fun in the same way liquid nitrogen ice cream is. So, can we not change the message from science is fun to science is rewarding? We have done it with sport; we tell kids all the time that sportsmanship is about being a gracious loser and not chucking a tantrum or referring to the other team as stinky poo faces.

It is therefore very important that science outreach teams and undergraduate experiments feature failure in their activities. However, the failures shouldn’t be highlighted as something bad, but rather as a way of getting students to problem solve. That way, if they decide to take the red pill and enter the lab as a research scientist they’ll be ready for some of the harsh realities of scientific research and beat all those over stinky poo face scientists.


Apr 102016

Dr Klaus was dressed in his chapless lederhosen. It was the only outfit that made him feel like an irresistible spank victim. His pert buttocks sat naked and proud upon his legs. It was a shame that no-one in the lab would be able to see his exquisite diy waxing job under his lab coat. Dr Klaus proceeded his experiment. And for every step in the procedure that went well, he promised himself a sharp tap across his peachy mounds…

The Si(100) samples were filthy, like a floor in a gay sauna, and had to be cleaned with methanol, acetone and distilled water before being mounted, doggy style, and loaded into the chamber through a tight hole. The SiO2 surface was cleaned further in vacuum by a sweltering 900 K for 5 min. This thermal anneal was followed by a high-frequency H2O plasma sticky discharge at 300 K. This H2O plasma fully dominated and hydroxylated the SiO2 surface and removed the dirty surface carbon contamination.

To tease the tungsten film into growing, the hydroxylated SiO2 surface was first exposed, by ripping open it’s shirt to reveal it’s pink nipples, to 10 mTorr of Si2H6 at 600 K for ~5 min. The cheeky FTIR spectroscopy indicates that Si2H6 reacts with the surface hydroxyl groups and squirts surface species containing Si-H stretching vibrations all over it’s face: e.g. SiOH*+Si2H6→SiOSiH3*+SiH4. After the initial Si2H6 treatment, tungsten film swelling could be performed at reaction temperatures between 425 and 600 K. A few WF6 and Si2H6 reaction cycles were utilized to cross dress the SiO2 surface to a tungsten surface.

The WF6 and Si2H6 exposures were submissive and controlled by performing various numbers of identical reactant pulses and throbs. The WF6 or Si2H6 reactants were introduced by spreading the automated valves for a few milliseconds. These orifice openings create small pressure transients in the deposition chamber. The total exposure of either the WF6 or Si2Hreactant during one AB cycle was defined in terms of the number of identical reactant pulses and throbs. Between the WF6 and Si2H6 reactant exposures, the deposition chamber was choked just a little bit and then purged with N2 for several minutes.

Adapted from the materials and methods section of:

Atomic layer deposition of tungsten using sequential surface chemistry with a sacrificial stripping reaction
Thin Solid Films, 2000, 145-153.

Apr 052016

Everyone has a big wet hole on their face and apparently we can’t help but stuff it with food. Sure, if you are going through a rough break up or are drunk, there should be no limits to what you can put in your face and masticate. But that mid-morning run to good ol’ maccas is doing us all harm. Like they say “a moment on the lips, a lifetime telling people you are big-boned”. 

A recent Lancet report looks at a family-sized-meal-with-extra-sides amount of data and finds that the global age-standardized mean body mass index (BMI) increased from 21·7 kg/m² in 1975 to 24·2 kg/m²  in 2014 in men, and from 22·1 kg/m² in 1975 to 24·4 kg/m² in 2014 in women. That correlates nicely with the introduction of drive-throughs, reinforced toilet seats and deep-fried things on sticks which, allow you waddle around while eating delicious calorie dense food.

The report is good news for all big beautiful women (BBW) lovers. Morbid obesity has reached a global value of 1.6%, so there will be more, much more woman to go around.

CD Risk Factor Collaboration (NCD-RisC), Trends in adult body-mass index in 200 countries from 1975 to 2014: a pooled analysis of 1698 population-based measurement studies with 19·2 million participants, The Lancet, Volume 387, Issue 10026, 2–8 April 2016, Pages 1377-1396

Apr 042016

These worksheets are designed for undergraduate students who want practice questions that are much more interesting than the ones in the text book.


1.  Write the equilibrium expression (keq) for the following reaction:

2SHITe + CoCK → (SHITe)2CoCK

2. Consider the following endothermic reaction


Predict the effect on the equilibrium position of

(a) increasing the amont of [FUCK]s you give

(b) increasing [FUCKYOU]

(c) Turning up the heat on your insults

(d) increasing the size of the flask that you keep your fucks in

3. During an acid trip, Ben asks you if life is in equilibrium with the world. Using examples from chemical equilibrium, provide an answer to blow his mind. Also, what is the best way to freak him out?

4. The Haber process is used to produce ammonia which is used to create fertilizer. This keeps food plentiful and allows people to literally eat themselves to death. Is it an endo- or exothermic process? If a person was to eat loads of KFC and fart in the reaction vessel what would happen to the equilibrium position? What is appropriate PPE for a fart based experiment?

N2 + 3 H2 → 2 NH3   (ΔH = −92.4 kJ·mol−1)

5. An alcoholic lecturer asks you: “an equilibrium constant with a value K > 1 means what?” How do you respond? and what do you buy  to bribe him to pass you in his subject even though you have no idea what he has said all semester?

Continue reading »

Apr 012016

It was a sweltering day in the lab and sweat was beading on her velvet skin. Sarah was excited mixed also with a little apprehension, because she knew that the task ahead of her had the potential to make her sticky all over. Sarah’s previous experiment had been a failure, but as she slipped on the latex gloves she felt a hot rush of determination; this time she was willing to take things to the next level.

Sarah obtained the nubile starting ester, γ-stearyl-R-Lglutamate (SLG), by a teasingly slow and kinky esterification of L-glutamic acid with the dominant stearyl alcohol (1-octadecanol) in an orgy of liquids including tert-butyl alcohol a hot and heavy reflux using sulfuric acid as a little catalyst BDSM play.

The corresponding hunk, carboxy anhydride, γ-stearyl-R-L-glutamate N-carboxy anhydride (SLG-NCA), was synthesized by reacting the blushing velvet core SLG with triphosgene (i.e., hexachlorodimethyl carbonate) in tetrahydrofuran (THF)

All PSLG samples were spanked like the naughty boys that they are by anionic polymerization of SLG-NCA in THF (approximately 10% monomer concentration) initiated by amines (N,N-diethyltrimethylsilylamine was obtained from Dr. Magic hands). The slow and hot reaction took a pounding throughout the 3-4 days at room temperature depending on the initiator used. The molecular weight was tied up and controlled by the ratio between the NCA and the initiator used.


Adapted from the materials section of:

Thermoreversible Gelation of Isotropic and Liquid Crystalline Solutions of a “Sticky” Rodlike Polymer Macromolecules, 2000, 33 (12), 4427-4432