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From: Alan \"Uncle Al\" Schwartz <>
Newsgroups: sci.chem
Subject: Re: Reaction Procedures
Date: 26 Feb 1996 15:55:31 GMT

Jay <> wrote:
>Recently in some advanced syntheses courses I've been taking,
>(natural products chemistry, Organic chem IV, etc) questions involve
>writing reaction procedures in the lab as well as the mechanisms 
>involved.  Up untill now mechanisms have always been a simple matter
>of looking up the reaction and applying the mechanism to the utilized
>reagents.  But these organic textbooks list nothing concerning the
>actual procedures involved in carrying them out.  So when the questions
>read like "what precaution should be taken to optimize ones yield of 
>product through the Aldol condensation", or "how much iodide is needed 
>as a catalyst" the traditional textbooks fall short.  Short of finding
>another reagents abstract that uses the same reaction in chem abstracts 
>I can't find a text that lists procedures and precautions for chemical 
>reactions.  I can't believe there isn't book out there that covers this
>subject.  If anybody knows please let me know by E-mail.

I did 10 terms and a summer of independent organic synthesis as an 
undergraduate, supporting three grad students' research.  When I hit grad 
school I was in pretty good shape to begin some serious learning.  After 
four years of doctoral studies I entered industry, and realized I knew 
nothing.  20 years later, I am abysimally ignorant and continuously 
falling further behind.  My various employers have been driven to 
distraction by late projects and goddamn strange ways of achieving goals. 
 They are much happier when a "proper" researcher comes up empty.  At 
least it is done on time and within budget.  Piss on 'em.

The only way to learn how to do it is to do it.  Chemistry is an 
apprenticeship.  I know of no book collecting the mountain of trivia 
which raises the competent chemist above the merely well-trained.

When the craziest R&D folk are fired for their weirdness, this is called 
good management.  When the place collapses five years later - filled with 
good boys and girls imbued with corporate culture - it is called bad 

Alan "Uncle Al" Schwartz  ("zero" before "@")
"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"  The Net!

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