Dr Rajanbabu, my mentor at Ohio State is doing well. I see he got a second publication into SCIENCE.
For an organic chemist, Science or Nature are the non plus ultra place to publsh. Getting research into that journal twice in a lifetime is an accomplishment.
Dr. Rajanbabu's site still has a link to the molecule that bedeviled me in Columbus Ohio. Everything in the picture below I accomplished between 1996 to 1998. This is me cooking with chemicals:
Each of those arrows, a, b, c, and d, represents several weeks (for a slowpoke like me) of finding the method in the published literature, trying to tweek the conditions, doing it wrong, going back and re-doing it, getting it clean enough to make an NMR spectrum, and then going back and repeating it. It was slow work, not entirely pleasant or interesting although it looks blithe and innocent in the above diagram. There are many personal memories crammed into every letter, every detail of the above figure has significance for me the cook:
- NaH is a grey powder that smokes upon exposure to air. It's that reactive.
- CCl4 is a proven carcinogen that noone else in the lab ever went near
- MeI is a beautiful little elegant way to add a carbon atom to a nucleophile and it came in a nice tiny brown glass bottle. The iodine atom made the small bottle surprisingly heavy.
- that little part on step b that says hv stands for "light". I have vivid memory of junk picking a dirty white plastic reading lamp from behind the undergrad apartments and just runing that step of the recipe with a regular 100 watt bulb, not even ultraviolet light.
- all of those steps that say "90%" or higher would have been 60% or less in my hands. They had one of the post-doctoral fellows run the reaction in skillfull hands to create those glowing yields of 90% throughput at each step.