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For an established business, the patronage of its customers is everything. For a startup or an R&D firm, patronage is much more difficult. My first corporate experience spoiled me.  I found myself in a skunkworks – a isolated bit of a company, sheltered from the tyranny of the rest of the corporation, free to pursue … Continue reading

Coral and Greenhouse Gases

One alarm being sounded is that as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere grows, it dissolves at higher concentrations in the oceans, dropping pH, and dissolving coral reefs, which are mostly calcium carbonate. Increasing the dissolved CO2 generates acid, yes, but it generates carbonate (and bicarbonate) ions in exactly the same proportion.  Dissolving coral or seashells … Continue reading

Blog and Writing History

I was 8 years old when I told my Dad I wanted to be a writer, and he told me I had to do some living before I’d have anything to write about.  My next writing project to see the light of day was my PhD Thesis (Physical Chemistry), and the papers that spun off … Continue reading

Mutagenic Chemicals: The Ames Test

Dr. Ames invented a test to determine how mutagenic any given chemical was.  He introduced it to a bacteria culture and looked for upsets.  This is almost the same as looking for carcinogens, except that our metabolism changes one chemical into one or more others, and the bacteria don’t mimic this.  But it is a … Continue reading

About Business and Community

I consider Business and Community be totally linked.  I’ll talk about money, and how the system has been perverted to the point it is no longer a good way to keep score of the value of our activities.  There was once a time (or at least a fairytale) that went something like this: your work … Continue reading

About Weird Physics

Why am I setting up this category?  This is the pigeon hole for stuff I find to be cool, but have no idea how it can ever make a positive difference in anybody’s life.  Maybe you can find a way…. But I’ve had a bee in my bonnet about certain stuff I learned and/or figured … Continue reading

The Same but Better

        We are often asked to make something “just like that, but better” in some regards.  In formulating, there is no free lunch, so you must always trade off one property against another, and such requests drive us crazy. In analytical work, the paradox is that improving a method does not always … Continue reading

Impure Solvent Media

Sometimes you find yourself stymied because the thing you are looking for in an analytical test is already present in the solvent you would use to prepare a series of standards.  An example might be calcium background in your tap water supply, or a trace of organic A in your organic B solvent. The way … Continue reading

Internal vs. External Standards

         In most situations, we use “external standards” whereby the unknown is in one bottle, the standard is in another bottle, we run both through a test, and compare them. Internal standards are used when you’re not sure that the AMOUNT of sample and standard solutions can be controlled precisely enough. For … Continue reading

Choosing Dilution Factor

         Always you are faced with whether to run an unknown sample at full strength, or whether to dilute it before analyzing it.  You might do that because too strong a response/signal could either put your readings off-scale, or make a test run an inordinatly long amount of time.  You might also … Continue reading

Detection Limits

         Whenever you get an analytical result, it should be accompanied by a qualification of how precise the result is.  This is usually implied by how many significant digits you report.  Ideally you should run a standard sample enough times to get good statistical measures of both the average value, and the … Continue reading