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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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July 19, 2012

Quick Links

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Posted by Derek

I'm pressed for time this morning, so I wanted to put up a quick link to Adam Feuerstein's thoughts on media embargoes of scientific results (and how they're becoming increasingly useless).

And I also wanted to note this odd bit of news: I'll bet you thought that fluorine, elemental gaseous fluorine, wasn't found in nature. Too reactive, right? But we're all wrong: it's found in tiny cavities in an unusually stinky mineral. And part (or all) of that smell is fluorine itself, which I'll bet that very few people have smelled in the lab. I hope not, anyway.

Comments (6) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets | Chemical News | The Scientific Literature


1. AndrewD on July 19, 2012 9:16 AM writes...

A former colleague of mine was a Fluorine chemist and he claimed that the smell of Fluorine was in fact your nasal hairs burning.

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2. DingusDay on July 19, 2012 12:18 PM writes...

Who ever called fluorine gas Chemistry's hellcat?? What does that even mean?? I mean sure... fluorine gas is super nasty, but a hellcat?? Hmmm.

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3. DingusDay on July 19, 2012 12:19 PM writes...

Who ever called fluorine gas Chemistry's hellcat?? What does that even mean?? I mean sure... fluorine gas is super nasty, but a hellcat?? Hmmm.

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4. Validated Target on July 19, 2012 12:24 PM writes...

In re: Fluorine and Moissan. Many people assume it was F2, HF or other toxic F-compounds that killed Moissan, but according to Max Gergel's "Excuse Me Sir ...", describing an early example of outsourcing, i.e., his synthesis of methyl isocyanide for Dr Bigelow:

"Dr. Bigelow, I asked, why is there such a hiatus between Moissan's work with this methyl isocyanide and your requirement? Why is there such a paucity of literature references?" "It's the toxicity, Gergel", was his cheerful reply, "Didn't you know that methyl isocyanide is one of the worst poisons known? It killed Moissan, and I didn't want to kill John Cuculo as he is taking his Ph.D." It was apparent (1) that rank has its privileges and (2) I was expendable.

"Beware the sin of Hubris". Scientists tend to forget that they are mortal. Cuculo dropped one of the bottles and it was necessary to evacuate the Chemistry Department at Duke University. Cuculo nearly joined Moissan; Bigelow was on the telephone the next day, but I declined with thanks and they dropped the project.

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5. Flatland on July 19, 2012 1:52 PM writes...

"So what is the telltale smell like? Tressaud says it is fitting that a Frenchman first isolated fluorine, because "it has a garlic-type smell." Schmedt auf der Gunne begs to differ: "At high dilution," he says, "it's like a perfume."

Fairly sure that this is the first ever example of someone using the words 'fluorine' (F2) and 'perfume' in the same sentence.

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6. Sili on July 19, 2012 2:17 PM writes...

Wasn't that the synthesis that made Gergel hear angels because of methyl iodide poisoning, or am I conflating two of his stories?

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