musings on music and life

December 3, 2012

Article on the Methanol Economy from the man himself, Prof. George Olah

Filed under: Chemistry — Tags: , — sankirnam @ 4:22 pm

For those with journal subscriptions, Angewandte Chemie just published an excellent article by my PI (Prof. George Olah) on the Methanol Economy. I had briefly summarized the main concepts in a previous post. Those who are interested in reading further can read about the concept from the man himself! He explains everything in detail, including explanations of sources of hydrogen and carbon dioxide, and why methanol is clearly superior to other choices for synthetic fuels.


December 2, 2012

December music season schedule

Filed under: Carnatic Music — sankirnam @ 12:44 pm

Well, I am leaving to Chennai, India on Dec 8 for the annual Carnatic music season. Keep an eye on this page for reviews of concerts, pictures, and maybe even recordings (internet connection capabilities allowing).

In any case, here is my schedule for this year. It’s rather slim compared to previous years, due to various factors out of my control.

1. R. Rajakokilam – Sruthi Sarathy – Arjun Narayanan (Parthasarathi Swamy Sabha, Dec 17, 12:30 PM)

2. Akshay Padmanabhan – Arun Ramamurthi – Arjun Narayanan (Shri Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha, Dec 20, 2:15 PM)

3. Arundathi Krishnan – Sudha R. S. Iyer – Arjun Narayanan (Kapali Fine Arts, Dec 21, 3 PM)

4. Sruthi Sarva – Violin TBA – Arjun Narayanan (Sivan Arts Academy, Dec 24, 2 PM)

Parthasarathi Swamy Sabha is located in Bheemasena Gardens road in Triplicane (Mylapore). Their premises are in a converted kalyana mandapam (wedding hall) of sorts. The second concert is at Vani Mahal, in the mini hall. Vani Mahal is located on G. N. Chetty road, next to the flyover. Kapali Fine Arts conducts their concerts at Srinivasa Sastri Hall, in Mylapore (it is on Luz Church road above the reading room, right next to the Mylapore Club). Sivan Arts Academy is the sabha run by Papanasam Ashok Ramani, the grandson of Papanasam Sivan, the famous tamil composer. The venue is TBA. For all of these concerts, please check the newspaper (The Hindu) for the latest changes.

December 1, 2012

ACS acknowledging the truth of the chemistry job market

Filed under: Chemistry Jobs — Tags: , , — sankirnam @ 1:25 pm

Last month, C&EN news (the ACS weekly magazine) published an article in which they finally acknowledged the brutal truth about the job market for chemists in the US. This article echoes what I have said in this blog before; this depression or recession is fundamentally different from others that we have had in the past. Jobs that were once the mainstay of the US economy (such as manufacturing and even R&D) have been outsourced to countries with cheaper labor, such as China, never to return. The advent of globalization has bought a paradigm shift to industries all over the world in that they are no longer geographically constrained to find the optimal location for doing business.

While we are witnessing an interesting restructuring of the global job market, academia should also be cognizant of the needs of its graduates and equip them appropriately. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The gap between the needs of industry and the skillset of graduates is now more pronounced than ever, as evidenced by the high structural unemployment of the last decade. Oblivious to all of this, academia continues to increase its enrollment of students annually. Tuition costs are also increasing, which will lead to an “education bubble”, just like the real estate bubble in the early 2000’s.

The disconnect between academia and the industrial job market is especially pronounced in the chemical sector, and this has been documented in great detail by Chemjobber. He has striven to provide accurate data about the chemistry job market and help put the truth about jobs in the open. One has to realize that even if the job market is poor, it is in the best interest of professors to keep their students in the dark as PI’s will always need a fresh stream of suckers students to do the gruntwork and keep the funding coming in.

The reason the aforementioned C&EN article is interesting is because ACS was, for a long time, in denial about how exceedingly bad the job market is. The fact that they have acknowledged the ugly truth and published this article is, therefore, surprising. One can only hope that this will cause them to take some steps in the right direction.

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