B.R.S.M. The road to Tet. Lett. Is paved with good intentions


Guess That Venue!

While sorting through the photos from last fortnight's conference/holiday I found this beautiful shot of the lecture theatre complex in which I gave my talk. It's not quite finished... but where is it? Answers on a postcard!

P.s. This is not a joke. I seriously attended a 4 day conference here. I like the yellow curtains on the right, leading up to the entrance. The phrase 'lipstick on a pig' springs to mind.

Filed under: Ask the audience, Fun | 28,693 views | 4 comments 4 Comments

Woodward Wednesday 3: Chlorophyll a

Okay, so it's not Wednesday, but I've just finished this and I'm not going to sit on it for another 4 days. Merry Christmas!

The Total Synthesis of Chlorophyll a

Full Paper: R. B. Woodward et al., Tetrahedron, 1990, 46, 7599-7659 [PDF]

Communication: R. B. Woodward et al., J. Am. Chem. Soc., 1960, 82, 3800 [PDF]

Lecture: R. B. Woodward,  Pure Appl. Chem., 1961, 2, 383 [PDF] FREE!


One thing I enjoy most about reading Woodward’s work is the variety of targets and natural product classes he worked on. He conquered steroids, alkaloids, polyketides and amino acid derivatives with equal aplomb, pushing the limits of complexity in each field, and always looking for the highest peak to climb. Woodward’s synthesis of chlorophyll a has been somewhat overshadowed by his truly epic collaborative synthesis of vitamin B-12 (some years later), but for its time was an outstanding accomplishment, unmatched in the field of porphyrin chemistry. Unfortunately, most books on classic or collected total syntheses only cover B-12, but plenty of interesting chemistry (as well as breathtaking experimental skill) was brought to bear in this earlier, simpler campaign.[1] I’m not going to write anything here about the importance of chlorophyll as it's a bit obvious, so on to the chemistry.[2]

Filed under: Total Synthesis, Woodward Wednesdays | 82,223 views | 8 comments Continue reading

I’m Not Dead Yet

Greetings all,

I was just going to let you all wonder (or not) where I've been for a couple of weeks more, but it turns out that having readers makes me feel really guilt for just disappearing. So, for the last two years, among other things, I've been working on a total synthesis project. After more than a few false starts, dead ends and detours, things picked up and progress has been good for the last couple of months, with the end finally in sight. To make things more interesting, I desperately wanted to finish the darn thing for a conference abroad at which I'm speaking next week. This effort has left me with little free time for things I enjoy, blogging being an early casualty. Fortunately, I completed my synthesis on Tuesday (with 4 days to spare!), the data match and I'm leaving triumphantly this Sunday to go and brag about my work. I'm out of the country until 21st December, after which I look forward to having a lot more time for writing again, and I'll get some posts up as soon as I can. Until then there's not much point checking this blog. I have about half a WW post on Woodward's epic synthesis of chlorophyll A, which I hope to finish while I'm away, and that'll probably be the first thing up when I get back.

Thanks for your patience!


P.s. An actual quote from my supervisor on Tuesday: "do you think you can get the paper written before you leave?". Don't count on it...

Filed under: Not Chemistry | 13,865 views | 9 comments 9 Comments