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One-of-a-Kind Chemistry Autograph Collection Goes Digital

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the look-for-an-original-walter-white dept.

Science 16

carmendrahl writes "A science historian has collaborated with a publisher to digitize a one-of-a kind collection of chemists' signatures. In the shadow of World War II, a Japanese chemist named Tetsuo Nozoe traveled outside his land for the first time, and collected autographs from the people he met on the way. This turned into a forty year hobby, and a 1200-page collection. The digital collection sucks chemists in for hours — it's full of cartoons, jokes, haikus, and scribbles the signers admit to having scrawled 'in a drunken state.' Nobel Prizewinners and ordinary chemists signed side-by-side. The Nozoe notebook collection will be open access for at least three years, with a big goal being to identify all the 'mystery' signatures in the collection with help from readers."

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16 comments

LIKE THEY SAY !! ONCE YOU GO DIGITAL !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42656257)

Your privacy is lost FOREVER !!

Chemistry (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#42656463)

As a guy who likes chemistry, I enjoy seeing more posts recently about chem, but I'd like a little more "real stuff" like Milstein's recent paper from like last week, about a catalytic alcohol to hydrogen converter using ruthenium under pretty normal-ish conditions instead of weird oxidizers or high pressures (the full paper unfortunately lives behind a very expensive legacy paywall publisher) rather than "I haz autographs". For example the paper goes in a "here's a fun way to make carboxylic acids" direction but my first thought was "here's a fun way to make lots of hydrogen easily using a liq fuel". I would have to think about it for awhile but from a thermodynamic perspective, wouldn't you get higher system efficiency by stripping H2 off alcohol then running it thru a fuel cell, then burning the semi-acidic remainder in a traditional IC engine, probably with some weird carb/fuel injection adjustments? OTOH I bet the exhaust of a carboxolic acid fueled IC engine is pretty icky to clean up.

But no we gots "I haz autographs" instead. I guess it could be worse.

Re:Chemistry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42656599)

We are busy waiting for those who enjoy chemistry submitting more articles. (I would enjoy them too but I am no chemist and am not the least bit up on the latest and greatest. That is why I have to rely upon those who are to make me aware of them.)

Re:Chemistry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42656899)

Actually, as someone working on projects relating to digitizing manuscript archives, with various transcription issues, I find this interesting, though I wouldn't recognize most of the names. But I like to see how others have chosen to organize and present their manuscripts. The value of the post might not always be where you think it is.

Re:Chemistry (1)

nbauman (624611) | about a year and a half ago | (#42661915)

I have a basic knowledge of chemistry, and I can recognize some of those names from my introductory chemistry and biology books. You can look them up on Wikipedia and find out what they did.

Here's one http://cen.acs.org/content/dam/cen/91/3/09103-scitech1-Nozoe155.jpg [acs.org] and here's his entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Djerassi [wikipedia.org]

The first reason I find these signatures so attractive and interesting is that it shows you how a great chemist's mind works. They're not single-minded nerds. They're human beings. They have a sense of humor. Their ideas are flying all over the place. Ask them for an autograph and they slip in a little idea about chemistry. You can understand why ideas come to chemists in their dreams.

There's such a thing as chemistry humor. Sometimes you have to understand the chemistry to get it, but if you do, it's very funny.

It's an important lesson to those who think that everything important in chemistry is as formal and dull as a patent application.

Re:Chemistry (1)

Jeng (926980) | about a year and a half ago | (#42657057)

Submit more of the stories you are interested in.

I should also, but I don't actually know anything so even stupid stuff interests me.

Re:Chemistry (0)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year and a half ago | (#42657065)

So, how often do you submit stories? How often do you seek out and vote for such stories in the firehose?

Re:Chemistry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42657317)

A long time ago, I submitted several chemistry related stories. None of them go picked up, so I quit trying. Now I don't bother submitting anything because it just isn't worth the time to write a good summary when it never gets picked up.

Re:Chemistry (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42657941)

As a guy who also likes chemistry, I have to say Slashdot really isn't the place to go for that. When it says "news for nerds", they mean "news for *tech* nerds". If you can't connect it to linux, computer chips or anime, it's not really interesting to the general Slashdot audience(*). There's been a couple of abortive attempts to do a "Slashdot for Science Nerds", but they never really got traction.

If you're looking for cool chemistry news, your best bet isn't Slashdot, and it isn't even the science sections of major news organizations (like the New York Times or the BBC), or the news sections of major science publishers (like Science and Nature), or even the news section of the American Chemical Society. Rather, it's probably the Royal Society of Chemistry's news page (Chemistry World [rsc.org] ) that I've found to have the best coverage of chemistry news, albeit without the corresponding discussion that a Slashdot article might bring.

*) Please note that I said *general* Slashdot audience. The subset of people with moderator points, of course, have more refined and varied tastes.

Re:Chemistry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42659817)

Now that girls like nerds, it's mostly "news for high school kids without dates" - semi-techies who are trying to nerd-up.

In a sense, though, this is /. returning to its roots, so you really can't complain too much.

Re:Chemistry (1)

reverseengineer (580922) | about a year and a half ago | (#42658137)

Yeah, I could stand to get in the habit of submitting more chemistry stories. I actually saw the autograph story yesterday in C&EN, but never even considered submitting it here. I guess it's not "real stuff, " but I found it charming, and a nice illustration of personal connections in science.

I'll admit that there are at least a couple stories about actual work in the field each week in Chemical & Engineering News that could readily be submitted here. Paywalls are a problem when it comes to sharing chemical research with a wider audience, but they're a factor in physics, astronomy, and molecular biology research too, and that hasn't stopped the steady appearance of those topics here.

I've seen some truly inscrutable theoretical physics and mathematics stories here where half the comments were "LOLWTF someone explain," and someone comes along and posts a good explanation, and all are (at least somewhat) enlightened, so I don't believe difficulty and obscurity are necessarily reasons to not submit a story. Let the Firehose decide if it's too hard. I do think overall chemistry gets less attention in the pop science press (except when it's responsible for something terrible), so there do tend to be fewer accessibly written stories to draw on.

Now, off to find a story to submit....

Re:Chemistry (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#42659737)

Paywalls are a problem when it comes to sharing chemical research with a wider audience, but they're a factor in physics, astronomy,

http://arxiv.org/ [arxiv.org]

Free preprints for physics and astronomy (and a lot of other stuff, just no bio). I'd like to see more of those too. I think every time aaronson posts something on his blog it should hit /. for example.

I've seen some truly inscrutable theoretical physics and mathematics stories here where half the comments were "LOLWTF someone explain,"

I can agree with that. From the front page of Nature Chemisty (paywall alert) we've got

"Molecular cages" by Cooper, mistakes in this summary are solely my fault, something like you can now nano-engineer a really tiny pasta strainer to catch certain specific molecular shapes, in this paper some ridiculously small hydrocarbons. Holy cow Cool! This would make a decent /. submission.

vs

"Catalytic Cascades" by Wang which is WTF for me, and I got pretty far along in ochem and quant before I switched to CS. I mean I'm vaguely familiar with his inputs and outputs but whats going on in between is ... I'm guessing this would not make a decent /. submission, at least not by me, at least at my current level of understanding of this paper.

Love it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42656977)

Despite not being a chemist and not having any direct interest in this, this is what I also love to see on Slashdot. It's one of those inspiring and interesting things amd the actual content can be funny. This is news for nerds, stuff I won't always find somewhere else but which the inner geek in me can appreciate.

mod u3p (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42657015)

fuckin6 surprise, to survive at all

Very Cool But Very Bad Sound... (1)

joelsherrill (132624) | about a year and a half ago | (#42657133)

When you turn a page. Wow! This is a very cool thing for Tetsuo Nozoe to have spent many years doing and a treasure. It is a great thing that it is available online (for a limited time). But WTF is up with that sound as you turn pages. If real books sounded like that when you turned a page libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops would be horrible places.

I want to digitize 200+ year old documents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42660019)

Hello Slashdot. I've been planning to do something similar with my family's archive, that starts around 1760 and has ~2500 letters, some of which provide a very valuable insight to my country's war of independence, told by people who took an active role in it. What file format do you think is the best for storing the images? And the text associated with it? And what kind of database can I use to set up a website, if I want the documents to be searchable by their content and other fields like named people, date or place?

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