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Should #foodchem lovers work as food chemists? Maybe not.

I knew mixing food and chemistry would draw some newbies out of the woodwork! Everyone give a warm welcome to guest poster Coulombic Explosion.

I’m not a blogger, but I have been an observer of those chemists active in the chemblogotwittersphere. I nearly succumbed to the excellent recent #chemcoach carnival initiated by SeeArrOh, but this carnival has finally surpassed my activation barrier. As a result, I made it a point to at least establish an account on Twitter prior to submitting my humble entry. Don’t expect frequent tweets from me, but if you see CoulombicExplosion@CoulombicExp – that’s me.

As it turns out, chemistry and food have been associated in my mind for most of my life, going all the way back to early childhood (say 6-8 years old) when I would visit my grandmother. During those visits, one of my favorite activities was playing “magic potions”. This game consisted of playing with various kitchen chemicals: water, food coloring, flour, sugar, salt, and most exciting, Alka-Seltzer tablets. It was great fun for me to mix and pour solutions, make brightly colored pastes, and watch the Alka-Seltzer fizz away in the bottom of a mixing bowl.

Years later, when chemistry-oriented science classes started to become available in middle school, I seemed to have a natural aptitude for the subject. I’ve always thought this may have been (partially) the result of some kind of genetic predisposition from my grandmother, who worked in a hospital as a lab technician. Nurture likely complemented nature in this case, through the early-childhood hands-on experience with chemistry of the “magic potions” game. Although I certainly had no understanding or appreciation for any of the chemistry going on in these kitchen concoctions (Absorbance and Beer’s law with food coloring, ionic bonds and solubility rules for sodium salts, citric acid and sodium bicarbonate reacting to liberate carbon dioxide, to name a few), I think that engagement fueled me with enthusiasm to seek such understanding and appreciation.

When I started my job search upon finishing my dissertation, I strongly considered a career in food chemistry, in part because I had begun to grow increasing interest in cooking. Around this time, my university was visited by Prof. Charles Bamforth, Anheuser-Busch Endowed Chair of Brewing Science at UC-Davis. During a small group session, I asked him why, despite his obvious passion for brewing science, that he was not a home-brewer? To paraphrase his response, ballplayers don’t go home and play ball; brain surgeons don’t go home and practice on his/her spouse. He made me realize that perhaps it was best to keep my interest for cooking as a hobby and not to merge it into my work life. Part of the purpose of a hobby (in my opinion) is to serve as an escape from your work. That’s not to say a chemist can’t employ chemical principles and intuition to enhance his/her cooking experience.

Happy #foodchem carnival all you foodie chemists out there!

#Foodchem carnival: mid-point(ish) round-up

We’re a little more than halfway through the Food Chemistry Carnival, which ends this Sunday, 11/18. There’s been a smorgasbord of offerings already, I thought it would be a good time to do a quick round-up of posts so far:

Cleantech Chemistry: Soon You’ll be Thankful for #foodchem Microbes: Microbiologists and chemists are ready to come to the rescue of cooks (and food makers) who love spices but don’t want to break the bank.

Newscripts: Easy As Pie Crust – #foodchem carnival: Beth Halford shares her family’s oil-based crust recipe.

Just Another Electron Pusher: Visions of a fictional #foodchem future: Glen give us lots of video goodness from movies that imagined food of the future.

Chemistry World: Food chemistry carnival – the sweet, gooey world of caramel: Philip Ball’s Phillip Broadwith’s indignation of the Great British Bake Off’s bad sugar science.

The Finch & Pea: Pumpkin Pie: More pie! The science behind a good pie crust. (I’m eager to see a crust-off between Ben and Beth.)

Chemjobber: #foodchem: Secret ingredients, secret recipes: CJ discovers that perhaps the secret ingredient to carefully-guarded recipes is simply the comfort they provide.

The Stoichiometric Equivalent: #Foodchem Carnival: I am most thankful for table salt this Thanksgiving: The science of salt preservation and flavoring.

Lost in Scientia: The intersection of food and fuel chemistry – #foodchem carnival: Find out how much biodiesel can be produced from a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Mmm, doughnuts…

There’s still time to contribute, chemistry & food lovers (yeah, I’m looking at you, Sciencegeist and Deborah Blum)!

The #foodchem carnival, starting Sunday!

My favorite time of the year is just around the corner. In about two weeks, those of us in the US will be celebrating Thanksgiving, a holiday centered around food, family, thankfulness, food, and football. (Did we mention food?) We all know chemistry is everywhere, including the food we eat. So it seems like the perfect opportunity for GlobCasino to host a food-centric blog carnival from November 11-18.

Here are sample questions as, um, food for thought. Feel free to riff off of one or more of these, or give this carnival your own flavor by posting about another food topic:

What food chemistry are you most thankful for, and why?

What’s the most outrageous food chemistry fact or theory you’ve heard? (This can either be something true, or something false you can debunk for your readers!)

What’s your secret sauce? Do you notice you approach cooking differently than, say, your non-chemist partner and friends? When elbow-to-elbow in the kitchen on Thanksgiving day, what special skills from your time in the chemistry trenches will you be employing, and what will you be biting your tongue about?

What recipe do you use that is most related to your field of research? (We have it on good authority that bioinorganic chemist Sciencegeist’s is whipping eggs in a copper bowl).

Any futurists out there? One hundred years ago the food industry barely existed. Now we can store cheese doodles in even the most remote parts of the world and eat them years (heck, decades) after they were produced. What is food going to be like in 100 years, and how might chemistry be part of that?

We’re giving you a couple of days’ notice so that you can ruminate on your perfect post. Put up your posts by November 18, and we’ll get a summary together in time for Turkey Day. If you don’t have your own blog and would like to participate, Grand CENtral is happy to host guest posters. Once you’ve posted, give a heads-up about your entry to r_peplingATacsDOTorg and on Twitter with the hashtag #foodchem.

Update, 11/15: I’ve just posted a mid-point round-up of carnival contributions submitted already.

Update, 11/20: Thanks to all who participated. The full recap is now available. Happy Thanksgiving!

This Week on GlobCasino: naming genes, @rivertop new CEO, science art, #chemsafety

Superstorm Sandy certainly made things challenging this week. Best wishes for a speedy return to normalcy for readers and colleagues impacted by the storm.

I’ve been sidetracked in other things and remiss in mentioning the annual Donorschoose.org Science Bloggers for Students campaign that ends on November 5. GlobCasino doesn’t have a giving page this year (yes, yes, I am a horrible slacker), but do go support some of the other chemistry bloggers’ projects.

And without further ado, here’s what happened on GlobCasino:

Cleantech Chemistry: MPGs, HEVs, PHEVs Oh My! and Moving to Missoula: Rivertop’s new CEO

Just Another Electron Pusher: The ACS provides a variety of career information for you

Newscripts: Amusing News Aliquots and Making Art With Numbers … And Molecular Formulas

Terra Sigillata: Making People Hate Chemistry on Halloween and Naming Genes Unlike Named Reactions

The Safety Zone: Webinars: Safety culture and chemical safety committees and Dow teams up with universities on lab safety, how’d the UC “Creating Safety Cultures” webinar go?

Happy Friday!

This Week on GlobCasino: #ChemCoach carnival, Mole Day video, and more

It’s been a busy week for the C&EN staffers who blog, what with the magazine’s annual advisory board and staff meetings. But we still had lots of good stuff on GlobCasino this week, especially in honor of See Arr Oh’s #ChemCoach blog carnival:

#ChemCoach entries:

Just Another Electron Pusher: Pushing electrons over to the #ChemCoach Carnival

Newscripts: Chem Coach Carnival – Science Writing

Terra Sigillata: Well, How Did I Get Here? #ChemCoach Carnival

The Haystack: #ChemCoach Carnival: From Big Pharma to Non-Profit

Other goodies:

Just Another Electron Pusher: 25 years of American Chemical Society goodness

Newscripts: Chemists Can Break It Down, Happy Mole Day: “A Molar Eclipse Of The Heart”, and Buckyballs Take Manhattan

Terra Sigillata: Elion-Hitchings Building Tour: A Storify

Hope you all had a great National Chemistry Week!

This Week on GlobCasino: battery bankruptcy, #SfN12, weeping paintings, JAEP retrospective

First, congratulations to Terra Sig’s David Kroll for his new (additional) gig at Forbes! And now, here’s what happened on GlobCasino this week:

Artful Science: Weeping Paintings

Cleantech Chemistry: A123 Systems Files Chapter 11, Johnson Controls to Buy Assets and LanzaTech: Now experimenting with CO2

Just Another Electron Pusher: So many nontraditional chemistry careers…

Newscripts: A Dynamic Neuron & His Dynamic Poster At #SfN12 and Amusing News Aliquots

Terra Sigillata: Burroughs-Wellcome Elion-Hitchings Building Open for Public Tours October 20th Only and Lefkowitz Nobel: Winning the second one

The Safety Zone: Friday chemical safety round-up

This Week on GlobCasino: #Nobels, #SheriSangji

GlobCasino was a cornucopia of Nobel commentary this week:

Just Another Electron Pusher: Awarding nontraditional chemistry

Newscripts: A Nobel In Chemistry, Through The Eyes Of “Families”

Terra Sigillata: HHMI and Duke Celebrate the Lefkowitz Chemistry Nobel, Lefkowitz and Kobilka win 2012 Chemistry Nobel for GPCRs, Gurdon and Yamanaka share Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2012, and Lefkowitz Nobel: “There’s a lot of love here.” (video goodness!)

Plus, an update and some perspective on the Sheri Sangji case:

The Safety Zone: Harran hearing in #SheriSangji case postponed and Chemjobber and Janet Stemwedel discuss #SheriSangji case and academic lab safety culture

And the usuals:

Newscripts: Amusing News Aliquots

The Safety Zone: Friday chemical safety round-up

This Week on GlobCasino: fracking fluids, commuting, pharma-academia collabs, and designer drugs

Here’s what happened on GlobCasino this week:

Cleantech Chemistry: Testing Green Fracking Fluids and A Graphic Illustration of the Target on the Back of the Chemical Industry

Just Another Electron Pusher: How far will you go to stay in science? Let C&EN know!

Newscripts: Amusing News Aliquots

Terra Sigillata: Smiles: 2C-I or not 2C-I? and L’Embarras Des Richesses: ScienceOnline2013 and ScienceWriters2012

The Haystack: Cantley Talks Pfizer CTI Collaboration

The Safety Zone: Friday chemical safety round-up