Friday, October 31, 2008

Dead man's party

Happy Halloween! When it came to choosing a costume this year, I considered many options. I could have been my evil, mirror-universe self, but I couldn't grow a goatee. I could also have been a mad scientist, but that wouldn't really be a costume. Ultimately I collaborated with Matt and we chose the best costumes ever: our boss.

The boss was a good sport about it. He didn't beat or fire us.
On a different note, I made up some mix tapes for Betty Jo to take to her sister's Halloween party. The totally sweet playlist follows.
Disc 1:
1Dead Man's PartyOingo Boingo
2Cry Little SisterGerard McMann
3People are Strange (Doors cover)Echo and the Bunnymen
4Bad Moon RisingCreedence Clearwater Revival
5The Devil Went Down to Georgia (Charlie Daniels Band cover)Primus
6Somebody's Watching MeRockwell
7GhostbustersRay Parker Jr.
8Don't Fear the ReaperBlue Öyster Cult
9Hungry Like The WolfDuran Duran
10Monster MashMisfits
11Pet Sematary (Single Version)The Ramones
12Psycho KillerTalking Heads
13Devil InsideINXS
14Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)David Bowie
15SuperstitionStevie Wonder
16Tombstone ShadowCreedence Clearwater Revival
17Werewolves of London (Colour of Money)Warren Zevon
18ThrillerMichael Jackson

Disc 2:

1This Is Halloween (Danny Elfman cover)Marilyn Manson
2Bad ThingsJace Everett
4Sympathy For The DevilGuns N' Roses
5HellSquirrel Nut Zippers
6When You're EvilVoltaire
7Bark At The MoonOzzy Osbourne
8Devil's Got a Holda MeColour
9Highway To HellAC/DC
10Murder By NumbersThe Police
11Dead Fish on the BanksThe Goodnight Loving
12Chase the DevilMax Romeo
13Pretend that we're deadL7
14Possum KingdomToadies
15We Must Bury YouKatatonia
16Only To Haunt YouThe Von Bondies
17Red Right HandNick Cave And The Bad Seeds
18Magic DanceDavid Bowie

Disc 3:
1Satan Is My MasterBen Folds Five
2Psycho TherapySkid Row
3I Put A Spell On YouCreedence Clearwater Revival
4The Boogie MonsterGnarls Barkley
5Living Dead GirlRob Zombie
7HalloweenDave Matthews Band
8Hells BellsAC/DC
9Beetle-SnakeDanny Elfman
10Soul DraculaHot Blood
11Weird ScienceOingo Boingo
12Satan Is My MotorCake
13Taste Of BloodMazzy Star
14Mary AnneGWAR
15Walking With A Ghost In Paris (Tegan & Sara vs. Mylo)Party Ben
16AbracadabrSteve Miller Band
17Black Magic WomanSantana
18Oogie Boogie's SongDanny Elfman
19Gonna Kill UGWAR

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Over the rainbow

I was in the lab yesterday drying and distilling some triethylamine for one of my projects. On a whim, I used a crystalizing dish full of copper shot instead of a heating mantle, oil bath, or sand bath. The resulting rainbow of copper brought a little joy into my day. Perhaps there is a lesson about grad school to be learned here... nah.

The rainbow resulted from the different rates of oxidation across the temperature gradient in the dish (~300 °C to 80 °C). There is a more thorough explanation for the phenomina in "Optical characterization of thin thermal oxide films on copper by ellipsometry" Derin, H.; Kantarli, K. Appl. Phys. A 2002, 75, 391–395, DOI: 10.1007/s003390100989

A copper oxide film grown thermally on a copper surface can be distinguished by the color of reflected light from the
copper oxide–copper film system. If the film grown on copper is cuprous oxide (Cu2O), the observed color changes from purple to blue, green, yellow and red depending on oxide thickness. However, cupric oxide (CuO) grown on a copper surface is black... The reflectance spectra in the visible region for the thick copper film and copper oxide–copper structures, for different oxide thicknesses, are shown in Fig. 8. The reflectance minimum that begins to show itself after the first oxidation time shifts towards long wavelengths as the thickness of oxide film increases. The observed colors of these samples changed from green to yellow for the oxide thicknesses given in Fig. 8. These colors arise from the reflectance drop passing a minimum at wavelengths between 4000 and 6000 Å in the reflectance spectrum of the Cu2O–Cu system. If the oxide films were CuO, the reflectance value would be zero for all wavelengths in the visible and therefore all samples of different oxide thickness would be black... The reflectance minima observed in Fig. 8 arise from the destructive interference of rays reflected from the air–copper oxide and copper oxide–copper interfaces.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Professional Development

You might be asking yourself, "Why haven't there been any new posts from that skeptical chemist?" Well, the answer is professional development. Every year, the Department of Chemistry hosts a recruiting event, Sponsors' Day, where the senior graduate students are invited to present posters and résumés for the consideration of invited recruiters. This year, Sponsors' Day lined up with the University's annual career fair. Between the two, the blog had to go on the back burner. Sorry.

The career fair was, as always, a cattle call. All of the employers were looking for engineers or undergrads and I got the feeling that I had educated myself out of the job market. In any case, the winner for coolest employer must have been the Aberdeen Proving Ground. During the description of their work, the recruiter said "blow up" at least four times while standing in front of a video of stuff blowing up. How awesome is that?

Sponsors' Day consisted of me standing next to my poster for three hours while trying to avoid blinding sunlight. The only people that stopped to hear my spiel were two recruiters that had already signed up to interview me. I wondered if I could have saved myself the trouble of making a poster and slept in that day. In the end, it all went pretty well. Nobody noticed that I had written "Colymerization" in my poster title, and I got five screening interviews with some good employers.

The dark horse employer was VWR, which was recruiting PhDs for management and sales positions. I'll admit that the thought of giving up research has occurred to me (and pretty much every PhD candidate that I know), but I'm not sure that I want to give up all this fame and fortune just yet. Seriously though, I imagine that getting back into research or academics would be difficult after a couple of years if I decided that I didn't like management.