Aluminium not Aluminum

I have finally got around to finishing this post…I have had a lot of “real life” work on lately, with starting in a new lab and doing some other non-blog writing.

There was a recent (ish) current discussion on Twitter about the difference between British and American English within the lab atmosphere, which then spawned the amazing hashtag #DowntonLabby.

As everyone knows, there are also plenty of words that Americans use in place of our sensible British English words including: sidewalk (pavement), cell phone (mobile phone) and, in my humble opinion, the worst culprit of them all, aluminum. Dudes, it is aluminium.

This conversation got me to thinking: what other British words are totally foreign to those across the pond? Most chemists will know that Americans say alk-kill and Brits say al-kyle, but I am particularly interested in words for lab equipment that aren’t easily translated between the two great nations. I have attempted to come up with a list with the help of google but please do add your opinions in the comments section. Do Americans even use these words? Am I completely wrong? Please do let me know either way.

So here goes… (I have put the British English term first, followed by the American version)

Teat = pipette bulb – a little birdy told me that you don’t use this word

Bellows = rubber bulb we use instead of compressed air for column chromatography

Clamp stand or retort stand = Ring stand (Is this because we use “rings” for balancing separating funnels? What if you have a normal clamp on it?)

Conical flask = Erlenmeyer flask

Boiling flask = Florence flask

Measuring cylinder = Graduated cylinder

It seems Americans have a propensity for removing letters from French words, for example:

Pipette = Pipet

Burette = Buret

Are there any Brits out there that have spent time in a US lab or vice versa who may be able to add to or remove from the list? I am hoping that BRSM tells us all about the differences between the UK and US labs when he moves across the pond later in the year.

I look forward to your input.



p.s sorry if this is complete rubbish.

Blog Roll

The recent publication of my blog roll in Nature Chemistry and The Sceptical Chemist has inspired me to share what blog posts I have been reading lately.

New Blogs that are worth a gander:

Behind NMR Lines is a newish blog that has recently started a new hashtag called #chemclub which is designed to encourage us all to read more literature. I hope this takes off as much as #realtimechem did. Good luck to you guys.

Labtimes is a brand new blog and I know it will be a good’un so watch that space.

I am sure you have all caught up with BlogSyn, but if you haven’t, head on over. Now!

Oldies but Goodies:*

SeeArrOh demonstrates his awesomeness at blogging by sharing three posts in one day, my favourite being Friday Fun – Chemistry Craig’s List

Chemjobber asks: what do you have to say about your younger coworkers? I expected more comments about disgruntled older employees, but happily, this is not the case with one commenter saying “My experience working with the young-uns (<35 and <30) has been about the same as working with the oldsters: some are a delight, and some are jerks. No real trend one versus t’other.”

Biochembelle shares her Harebrained Scheme for Science Careers Training. I particularly agree with the point that ” programs and advisers should be invested in the career training of their students and postdocs”.

Something a bit different:

More stories from the UK – China – Japan – UK conference journey overland from Lowco2motives. The writer shares some very funny and scary stories! Go on, take a look!

That is all for now but if you find a new and exciting blog then let me know, I am always on the lookout for more interesting stories/articles etc to read.

*experienced bloggers, not old, decrepit scientists. I think.

How to pour the perfect glass of bubbly

I know that many of my twitter and blog followers like to drink the odd drink so I thought I would share this scientific paper on how to pour the perfect glass.

J. Agric. Food Chem., 2010, 58, 8768–8775

I should firstly say that my favourite bit of the paper was the acknowledgement:

We thank Champagne Pommery for regularly supplying us with various champagne samples” –  It is not often that a champagne supplier gets an honourable mention. I do think it is time I thought about a postdoc in France…?

There are apparently two ways of pouring champagne:

Champagne-like way of serving: champagne is poured vertically and results in foaming

Beer-like way of serving: champagne is poured with the glass at an angle, causing less foaming

Various techniques, including measuring the carbon dioxide content at a range of temperatures and IR thermography, were used to determine the best method for pouring Champagne. Read the paper to see lots of pretty pictures.

Unsurprisingly, the paper concludes that the method for Champagne pouring should be revisited and the beer-like pouring approach should be adopted. I can’t see the Champagne snobs adhering to this, even with scientific evidence against them!

So next time you pour a glass of fizz, think of the chemistry going on inside the glass.