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August 19, 2011
Day Off - Some Links and Some Ancient Greek
I'm adding a day to the weekend, so science is going to have to march on without me for a while. I do have a few miscellaneous links to things that have been piling up, though: here's the Chronicle of Higher Education on growing links between drug company research and academia, and (for something completely different) here's a rather crazed editorial at Marketwatch calling for the immediate abolishment of the FDA. ("Everyone would start marketing crazy drugs to cure cancer, impotence, etc. And my response is – so what?").
And here's a short review in Organic Process R&D on a reaction that I've never done, but which looks interesting: direct amine substitution of C-H bonds. You do that with various semi-exotic rhodium catalysts, and I'm not aware of any other useful ways to do it at all. Anyone out there had any experience with this?
To cap things off, if anyone's looking for something to do in their spare time, well, do what I've been doing on the train rides home: help transcribe some ancient Greek papyri. No, I'm not kidding. These are unstudied examples of the Oxyrhynchus papyri, a trove of discarded writings from an Egyptian city of Roman and post-Roman times, excavated in the 1890s and still being worked through. (The book City of the Sharp-Nosed Fishis a good overview of what's been found so far).
They'll put scanned ones up on the screen for you, and you can transcribe the Greek letters for their database. I'd recommend hitting the "Next" button at first until you get one that's in nice, dark, all-capital lettering; those are pretty easy to work with. Some of the dashed-off script ones, though, are a real challenge, and you'll be surprised at how much handwriting varies. Here's a useful comparison of that sort of thing, and this is another excellent resource on reading papyri. If (like me) you don't have a whole lot of ancient Greek at your disposal, you can always try to translate text strings you find using this tool at Tufts' Perseus site. Mind you, these guys mashed all their words together with no spaces, so it can be a bit tricky - one help is that kappa-alpha-iota ("and") shows up a lot. Enjoy! I find it, weirdly, to be a lot of fun.
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