March for Science (not Silence)!

We took part in the March for Science in Dublin today. There was an excellent turnout at the event by scientists and non-scientists alike, all supporting of science. Some of our favourite placards are captured in the photos below. The march went from Grand Canal Dock to Government Buildings (which used to be the home of the UCD Science Faculty). The march was addressed by Former President Mary Robinson, immunologist Prof Luke O’Neill, and Physicist and Science Communicator Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin. People highlighted the role of science in disproving falsehoods (“alternative facts” were mentioned), but more importantly in generating new knowledge that was of immense benefit to humanity. The need for evidence-based policy, and for action on climate change were also common themes.

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The march was linked with hundreds of marches all around the globe today, standing on up for science, and condemning the censoring of scientists by authoritarian governments, and proposals to savagely cut the science budget in the USA.

Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson read a poem to the crowd in Dublin, it was written specially for the March for Science 2017 and was also read at the march in Washington DC. It is by Jane Hirshfield, chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and is titled “The Fifth Day”:

On the fifth day

the scientists who studied the rivers

were forbidden to speak

or to study the rivers.

 

The scientists who studied the air

were told not to speak of the air,

and the ones who worked for the farmers

were silenced,

and the ones who worked for the bees.

 

Someone, from deep in the Badlands,

began posting facts.

 

The facts were told not to speak

and were taken away.

The facts, surprised to be taken, were silent.

 

Now it was only the rivers

that spoke of the rivers,

and only the wind that spoke of its bees,

 

while the unpausing factual buds of the fruit trees

continued to move toward their fruit.

 

The silence spoke loudly of silence,

and the rivers kept speaking,

of rivers, of boulders and air.

 

Bound to gravity, earless and tongueless,

the untested rivers kept speaking.

 

Bus drivers, shelf stockers,

code writers, machinists, accountants,

lab techs, cellists kept speaking.

 

They spoke, the fifth day,

of silence.

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New paper in J Org Chem

Our latest paper has been published online in the Journal of Organic Chemistry. The paper is Avene’s first paper, and details her identification of an impurity that was acting as a catalyst poison in thiourea-catalysed glycosylations. The impurity arose from the benzylation of an alcohol in DMF – a procedure that is carried out thousands of times per year all around the world. Despite this, the side-reaction that generates the impurity had not been noted in the scientific literature before. Well done to Avene on her excellent detective work, and congratulations also on her first crystal structure.

graphical-abstract

The paper can be read online at the link below:

J Org Chem 2016, Article ASAP; DOI: 10.1021/acs.joc.6b01914

If you don’t have a subscription and would like to read the article please email eoghan dot mcgarrigle at ucd dot ie to request a free article-on-request code.

The research was funded by the Irish Research Council and SFI.