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December 9, 2004
I took the opportunity, while moving to a new project, to clean up my office and files. This time I dug in pretty deeply, and heaved out about 30 pounds of stuff, some of it a good fifteen years old. Looking at the folders, I realized that they were for kinds of chemistry that I hadn't done since then and had no plans to do again. And even if I did, I'd want more current references than these, so out they went.
Good reference papers are a lot less costly to get, in man-hours, than they used to be. Searching manually through Chemical Abstracts meant that when you found something, you held on to it. Who knew if you could find it again? Now, with SciFinder and the like, you can plow through the literature like a nuclear-powered icebreaker. When you find the citation, you hit another button and the PDF hoses right up on your screen. It's like having magic powers, and not many who missed out on the bound-volume days will ever understand how strange it will always feel.
Still, I'm keeping some golden oldies. While my old palladium coupling references are historical artifacts, the ancient papers are still good in some of the slower-moving fields, things like Friedel-Crafts reactions. I still have the first technical paper I ever copied off, from my undergraduate days in 1981, and that one's staying. And the references that are in my PhD thesis are still in their own folder, which is turning a worrisome yellow around the edges.
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