Field of Science

First they came for the bloggers and I didn't speak up because...

Here's a breath of fresh air. I keep on thinking about Planck's quote about scientific revolutions not occurring until old generations die and new ones take their place and here's something of that sort happening, even if in a minor way. 

Prof. Phil Baran has started his own blog. It's easy to see this as a response to the commendable IBX oxidation experiment carried out by Blog Syn. That, by the way, was a great illustration of how science should work; research is published, it is then scrutinized, a few discrepancies are found, the original author responds and confirms the original results, and the new authors discover something new that had not been realized before.

But it's clear that the Blog Syn incident was only a seed for a realization that undoubtedly must have been crystallized in Phil's mind for a while. We have all seen how the old guard has often dismissed and scorned bloggers and their pesky, amateur blogs. Now here's someone from the new guard who clearly recognizes which way the winds are blowing:

Over the years I have vaguely followed some of them, mostly through my students or through being occasionally contacted by someone that runs a blog. Practically all of my colleagues roll their eyes the minute the word "blog" is uttered for a variety of largely justified reasons.  

But times are clearly changing...Last year I was at a dinner symposium where EJ Corey gave a brilliant impromptu talk before a toast. It was a captivating speech all about how things have rapidly changed over the span of his 80+ years. The take home message was that change is natural and you can either embrace it and adapt or be left behind. I'm no fortune teller but it is clear to me that blogging is here to stay and is gathering momentum.

There is something ironic about the fact that the words of the great E. J. Corey - an exemplar of the old guard who almost certainly is not going to start blogging anytime soon - should serve as an invitation to blog for the man who is widely regarded as one of the most creative synthetic organic chemists of his generation. 

Thank you Prof. Baran. Now, the next time they come for us, we know you will speak up because you are are a blogger.

Other reactions: Chembark


  1. Equating criticism of blogging with the Nazi round-ups? Your use of the Niemoller text in this context is a bit over the top.

  2. I am not equating the context. I am equating the wordplay. I guess I should have added a note at the end.

  3. Boltzmann? You mean Planck?

    1. Thanks, I was probably thinking of another quote ascribed to Boltzmann.

  4. Baran explicitly stated that he will not be blogging.

    I'm not on Facebook, linked in, I don't tweet or chirp, and I don't have time for blogs. I truly don't think I am interesting enough or important that people would care what I think or do every day. And, I barely have time to breathe these days with commitments piling up and a young family.

    Instead his students will be blogging, with his blessing.

  5. Thanks for the note. It's still very helpful to have a mainstream PI supporting blogging (and commenting on the posts, as he did on the latest one).

    1. Oh, absolutely, it's a major step in the right direction. Hopefully over time Dr. Baran will take a more active role, as the benefits of the blog become apparent.


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