A Beautiful Failure

February 4, 2009

There are times in lab, when even a failure brings something positive with it: a brilliant insight, a new direction perhaps, or simply a beautiful sight. Here is a picture I took this morning in a microscope, of a device I had fabricated after much pain. What you see in the image – the stripes – are lithographically fabricated gold wires, about 20 micron wide, on a silica substrate. To put it a bit obtusely, these wires connect the business end of the device to the outside world. Much to my dismay, one of the wires seemed to be busted (i.e., the connection between the device I made and the outside world was severed)

5_t2_inner_bustedwire1

Ordinarily, this would cause me much angst and frustration. Luckily though, I have alternative wires in the arrangement that could still do the job for me. But a closer look at the failure was what ultimately brought a smile. Isn’t this just beautiful ?

5_t2_inner_bustedwire62

I played quite a bit with the filters on the microscope till I got, what I thought, was a fair enough compensation for a failure !! The gold incense stick flaring out into a myriad subtle hues. Here’s the same image with a different focus of the microscope:

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h-index for Chemists

April 18, 2008

A discussion came up at lunch today about h-index for chemists. I hadn’t thought about the h-index for some of the leading chemists of our times, or even what the magnitude of the h-index might be. Henry “Frtiz” Schaefer III, of the University of Georgia has compiled a list, ranking the h-index of living chemists. When the list was first published online by Chemistry World in 2007, the Harvard organic chemist E. J. Corey came out tops with an h-index of 133 (which means Corey has published at least 133 papers, each of which have been cited at least 133 times) . A recent update ( March 2008 ) finds fellow Harvard faculty, G. M. Whitesides, has pipped Corey with an h-index of 140 !

A few chemists who work in the general area of electrochemistry and/or electron-transfer reactions, are listed below:

Name, h-index, (Rank):

Allen J. Bard, 106, (11)

Harry B. Gray, 97, (16)

Thomas J. Meyer, 91, (34)

Royce W. Murray, 87, (44)

Rudolph A. Marcus, 84, (51)

Jean-Michel Savéant, 81, (57)

R. Mark Wightman, 71, (119)

Fred C. Anson, 68, (152)

Christian Amatore, 54, (389)

Andrew G. Ewing, 51, (463)

The full list can be found here. The highest ranked Indian chemist is C.N.R Rao (74) with an h-index of 76.