I…don’t even…. know where to begin with this:
This paper exemplifies all that is wrong with academic science publishing today. The results are mediocre at best and of extremely trivial importance. Sophomores learning organic chemistry for the first time learn several methods for the reduction of nitro compounds, outlined here, for example. This chemistry is very robust and has been developed extensively over the last 100 to 150 years.
Just because the corresponding author is famous, it should not necessarily allow him/her to fast-track papers into top journals. Referees should be responsible for continuing to give publications by these authors the same scrutiny that papers by lesser-known people get. If Beller’s name was not on the paper, I guarantee this would have gone to Tetrahedron or Advanced Synthesis and Catalysis. Also, the TEM pictures included in the publication do not really give any additional information about the nature of the catalyst. The in thing today is to include images like these in catalysis or materials publications, even if they are completely irrelevant, in order to “bump” the publication up to a journal with a higher impact factor. A similar thing happens in synthesis with X-ray structures.
This is just paper #134978634987623984763298764987234 on the reduction of nitroarenes to anilines, and just because it is by Beller, has found it’s way into the pages of Science. Academic nepotism at its finest.