Chemists Talkin Chemistry

Whats Wrong with this Picture?

Posted by Paul on December 1st, 2006

The following picture accompanies the story titled Women in Science in this weeks CE News (Nov. 27th, p. 34):

Women in Science Pic from C&EN

I bet the layout editor was quite pleased with himself after picking this image out of the database:  Woman doing science?  Check.  Obligatory chemistry glassware?  Check.  Pretty colors? Check.

Now, what the hell is she going to do with all of these solutions?  Isnt it a little early to be dyeing Easter eggs? Anyway, while admiring this scientist doing research, I noticed something truly disturbing. Take a closer look and see if you see it too

If you said that the solution exceeds the fill mark in more than a few of the volumetric flasks, youre right.  For some of them its not even close:  

Errors in Women in Science Pic in C&EN

I might have been able to overlook this error in any old news magazine, but this is CE freakin News.  For goodness sakes, Mr. Baum, every person who reads your publication is a chemist.  We know how to use volumetric flasks.  This photograph is offensive and it is unfortunate that you placed it in a story on women in science.  How dare you.

46 Responses to Whats Wrong with this Picture?

  1. Shrug Says:

    Huh, I didnt even notice that. I *did* notice, however, that shes not wearing gloves.

  2. eugene Says:

    I noticed that it looks like the photo is from the 70s. And the gloves thing too, knowing how much you care about safety.

  3. Jokerine Says:

    This is gross!

    Ive always said, said Pae that girl technicians properly handled could take a good deal of the load off the men in any laboratory situation. Theyre actually defter and quicker than men at repetitive tasks, and more docile-less easily bored. We could free men for original work much sooner if we used women.

    Do you find any women capable of original intellectual work, Dr. Shevek?

    U.K. LeGuin The Dispossessed

    And not wearing gloves and so inacurate. Tsk.

  4. Jokerine Says:

    actually this looks a lot like my firstyears mixing a universal indicator. Good mixture: Thymolblue, Bromophenolblue and Bromothymolblue.

  5. Klug Says:

    Gotta agree with Eugene. This ones from the 70s look at that hair. Rudy DID make the editorial choice

  6. TotallyMedicinal Says:

    Maybe the room is extremely hot?

  7. GCT Says:

    The apparent off the mark filling of the volumetric flasks probably serves a more aesthetic function, since if it were filled exactly to deliver you wouldnt be able to see the line. How would any one of us really appreciate the fact that they were really volumetric flasks, and also, it gives an more naieve reader something to ponder about.

    Am I making any sense here?

  8. Kyle Finchsigmate Says:

    Ill bet she cant drive either.

  9. Reuben Says:

    I am slightly not so happy to see glass and shining containers with solutions inside but without stoppers or caps.

  10. Paul Says:

    Yeah, those are some weird volumetric flasks; they appear to have plastic snap-tops instead of ground-glass joints. Ive never seen them before, but guess theyre better (assuming that youre not working with organic solvents).

  11. Jan Says:

    My volumetric glassware definetly had stoppers (plastic but good enough for aqueos solutions).

  12. Maureen Rouhi Says:

    Im the managing editor of C&EN, and I take responsibility for this image appearing on our pages. In hindsight, I should have examined this image more carefully.

    We take comments such as this one about a misleading image seriously. It would be great if you would also communicate directly with C&EN in the future if, heaven forbid, we make another blunder such as this.

  13. Paul Says:

    Welcome, Ms. Rouhi! You are the very first chemical celebrity to leave a comment on this site. We love CE News. Tell Rudy we said hi.

    My post had a silly-to-serious ratio of 9:1, so please dont fire anyone. My guess is that few, if any, losers like me even noticed the error. The fact that it was in an article titled Women in Science was clearly just bad luck.

    Well certainly contact you if we notice anything in the future, and please feel free to write an editorial in CEN on any mistakes you find here on ChemBark, especially errors in grammar and spelling.

    And while we have your ear, when you run out of ideas for stories, someone at CEN should run a feature on chemistry blogs. A whole bunch of great blogs exploded onto the scene in 2006 (see the sidebar on the right) and would be interesting to many members of the ACS who might not be aware of their existence. We hope to enjoy the same success as publications like Org. Lett. by copying their business model of publishing humorous articles about chemistry that are read by 10-15 graduate students.


  14. ChemBark » Blog Archive » Is the Chemical Blogosphere Gaining Legitimacy? Says:

    [] Whats Wrong with this Picture? []

  15. Beth Halford Says:


    Lest you think were not paying attention, Im planning a chemistry blog story for early 2007. Im wondering if you or any of your fellow chem bloggers will be at the 2007 North Carolina Science Blogging Conference.


    Lest you think were not paying attention, Im planning a chemistry blog story for early 2007. Im wondering if you or any of your fellow chem bloggers will be at the 2007 North Carolina Science Blogging Conference.

    Beth (and its Dr. Rouhi)

    Beth (and its Dr. Rouhi)

  16. Jean-Claude Bradley Says:

    I am running a session in the afternoon on Open Notebook Science at the NC Science Blogging conference. I hope to see you there!

  17. Liberal Chemist Says:

    Beth Halford Says:
    Beth (and it’s Dr. Rouhi)

    Ah, that brings back excellent memories of when I was an undergrad and we had this cool assistant professor who referred to us all by our first names. I was walking through the Chemistry Department and noticed that she had left her lights on so I reached in and turned them off. I happened to meet her in the hallway as I entered the building and I cheerily said Oh hi (first name here), I just turned the lights off in your car. I happily continued on in my oblivious, male, master-of-the-universe way until she called me back and proceeded to lecture me on how hard she had worked to get where she was and that it was unacceptable to refer to her as anything but Dr. or Professor. Now, I know that Dr. Rouhi was not making that same statement but wow for a second there I was flashbacking like an old episode of Kung Fu. Excellent blog, in the old days we just had a dank student room under the stairs where we could let the poison out. Catharsis is good and for real good catharsis you can charge admission. Just ask Dylan.

  18. eugene Says:

    A lot of my friends who have their degrees dont like to be called Dr. because they associate it with a real, medical doctor and one of them said that a real doctor probably had to deal with a lot more crap than a chemistry graduate student, strange as that may seem

    I got in a lot of trouble during a presentation from other faculty for calling my advisor by his first name. I can hear their shouts and indignant screams right now. Its professor ******!!. At least they didnt ask me to call him a doctor.

    I dont think when I get a degree Id like to be called a doctor either. Maybe if I become a professor, then professor will be fine. Whats your preference though?

    If I was talking to undergrads or grad students that I was familiar with, I would address them by their first name if I was a professor. I would only address them by their last name when chastisement was in order. I dont know of too many examples of professors who dont refer to undergrads by their first names. You should call them professor ***** in return though; unless you are familiar with them and they told you to call them by their first name. You can also use indirect language so that you never run into personal pronouns. I dont know why you were surprised by the fact that the cool new assistant prof was upset. If anything, she taught you a useful lesson that served you well in the future. You would do well to thank her for it when you go to your new dank student room. Now that you are older and wiser.

  19. Paul Says:

    My preference? Paul.

    The exception: should I happen to have kids, my kids friends should call me Mr. B or the man with the lollipops and the white van.

  20. Liberal Chemist Says:

    eugene Says:
    I don’t know why you were surprised by the fact that the cool new assistant prof was upset. If anything, she taught you a useful lesson that served you well in the future.

    Well, it was a while ago but even then (and now) it was the lack of reciprocity that I stunbled over. If one is going to assume a familiar attitude with the students then I think reciprocity is inferred. I generally refer to my students by their surnames until they graduate with their bachelors degree. After that I always use first names. Where I teach now the students have spontaneously taken to calling me by my first name but preceded with Dr. I didnt start it but I have not tried to stop it either.

    With undergraduates I have found that professors that get overly friendly with their students find it almost impossible to regain control if things get difficult in terms of course discipline or if a student grieves a grade.

    My kids find it hilarious that my students show me more respect than they do.

  21. Beth Halford Says:

    Sorry. I didnt mean to imply that you should always call a Ph.D. doctor. I have a Ph.D. and dont insist on being called Dr.

    I just think that if youre going to call someone by a formal name (Paul called her Ms. Rouhi), you should use the correct one. A 20-second Google search would have given you the correct title.

  22. Paul Says:

    Indeed, Dr. Halford! I have located the secret repository of CEN staff bios. As one would guess from his editorials, Rudy Baum is quite a handsome man.

  23. Beth Halford Says:

    Paul, you can call me Beth.

  24. Paul Says:

    Cool, Beth. And to answer your question above, I probably wont be attending the North Carolina blogging conference. My leash doesnt allow me to wander that far from Boston, and I dont know if my pride could withstand the blow that comes with registering for a conference on blogging. I hear that a blogging symposium is starting up at the ACS National Meetings. Attending one of those would be a little more palatable, because I can always pretend that I went for the other talks. Its kinda like how a guy also buys a newspaper, cereal, and pack of gum at CVS when all he really needed was the box of prophylactics. BTW, Im in DC regularly (T-minus two weeks and counting), so if you ever want to dish about chemblogs, count me in.

  25. nobigtitlesforme Says:

    Yes, thanks for the C&E Staff bios link. Apparently its MR Rudy Baum and DR almost everyone else. Anyone else surprised by that?

  26. Rudy Says:

    It is Mr., not Dr. I got my B.A. from Duke and went to Georgetown Medical and found medical school incredibly tedious and hospitals incredibly frightening. Dropped out, planning to get chemistry Ph.D. sometime. Got a job at ACS, rest is history.

    Sorry about the pic. Wont happen again. Your blog is fun.

  27. Paul Says:

    Yeesss! The parade of chemicelebrities keeps rolling in! Welcome.

    Anyone should feel free to correct me if this is a misconception, but journalism strikes me as a field where skills and experience will get you a lot farther than titles and degrees. Whereas you can forget about a professorship without a Ph.D., and a pharmaceutical company is rarely going to put an M.S. in charge of Ph.D. chemists, the people who succeed in journalism are the ones who are good at it. It works the same way in few other professionsathletic coaching is one.

  28. eugene Says:

    Liberal Chemist,

    I still dont see why its such a surprise that there was a lack of reciprocity. There is no reciprocity in high school. Your teacher calls you by your first name, and you call them Mr. **** or Ms. **** or whatever. By their last name. Undergrads are just out of high school, so unless you went to school at an enlightened place, I would expect them to be aware of the fact that teachers are addressed differently from the way they would address a teacher. In fact, calling an undergrad fresh out of high school by their last name might be a little daunting for them at first.

    I agree that its hard to regain control in a classroom once youve lost it. I tell my students to call me by my first name during discussions and some of them still want to call me Mr. **** because they are in high school mode. I am not overly friendly and Im not going to start making too many jokes while Im teaching. I learned that the hard way. I start off the semester by saying that Im a hard grader and they are all doomed unless they are geniuses. That way theyll be pleasantly surprised and I get less haggling over grades.

    All this dialogue is making me want to start teaching again.

  29. eugene Says:

    Journalism sounds very competitive. So when I run out of options, Im going to create a niche for myself by being the ACS CEN News foreign correspondent in Europe since I know all these weird European languages. I imagine itll be hard at first: with all the shuttling between Amiens, Trieste, and Zurich, being forced to attend conferences on ancient monastery grounds, talking about chemistry over wine and cheese luncheons (its hard to be a good reporter under the influence of alcohol and/or when youre full of gourmet cheese), but I suppose Ill get used to it.

    Especially since the foreign correspondent position that I just made up carries twice the normal pay with it as compensation for the aforementioned stress.

  30. GCT Says:

    Can someone tell me why Mr. Baum is having fun on this blog at 3:45 p.m., while he is still, presumably, on the job?

  31. eugene Says:

    Oh whatever. Some anonymous jerk is having fun with people who would put comments onto a blog under their own names. Just a cursory glance of issues after the whole New York Times Editorial story will tell you that there are probably plenty of folks happy to jump the trigger if given the anonymity.

    I would never do that to someone who is honest enough to use their real name. Me, Im a coward. As long as my issue of CEN news is there on time and is a good read, I couldnt care less what anyone is doing at any time. Plus, you forget that the internet is a valuable source of information for journalists these days.

  32. Beth Halford Says:

    Actually Eugene, I think Rudy really did write that.

  33. eugene Says:

    Yeah, my comment #31 is based on the real Rudy Baum writing in and is my answer to comment #30. I have a lot of respect for comments where the author uses their real name. Thats why GCTs comment was garbage. Sort of like my anonymous ones.

    Okay, back to work.

  34. Paul Says:

    I consider writing or reading any chemistry blog as work. :)

  35. eugene Says:

    Actually, youre right. In a way.

    Im forced to think about an area outside of my own when I read Totally Synthetic for example. Its stuff that I normally would skip over in a journal, but I am trained to understand total synthesis, and the posts and comments lead me to go through the article. I actually use that blog to keep up to date on whats going on in the field

  36. eugene Says:

    Hey, I totally forgot. CEN news should do an investigation of the terrible present situation with ACS and the ACS thinking they can get away with it by not giving members their yearly present. For example, I know plenty of people who didnt get their Hydrogen mug. And if thats the first year present, then what kind of example are you setting for all the subsequent years?

    My friend was also my official sponsor for joining ACS, and they still havent received their periodic table throw that youre supposed to get when you find a new member for the society.

    We filled out the form properly and included both of our ACS numbers. We still get our journals, so I know they know our addresses. Its been five months and were still waiting for that throw! Something tells me Ill have to wait forever. Damn you ACS. Damn you.

  37. Paul Says:

    Somehow I doubt that Ann Nalley reads this blog.

  38. Ψ*Ψ Says:

    What? Were supposed to get yearly presents?
    Does that extend to student affiliates, or are our dues not enough to matter?

  39. Rudy Says:

    The real Rudy Baum did post that comment. And reading blogs falls under my job description these days.

    Ill make sure the people in membership hear about the problems with the gifts.

  40. Brian Says:

    I always find it weird when someone stops by to see my boss and asks me if Dr. XXXXX is around. It seems to me that being a professor is much more impressive than just having a doctoral degree, especially a prof. at a top school. I definitely do not want to become a prof, but if I did, I would make sure people used prof instead of doctor when they addressed me if they were trying to be polite. As it stands, I think Ill only make people call me Dr. if I dont like them.

  41. GCT Says:

    Mr. Baum probably gets to C&E site early.attends those meetings and gets programs implemented, then gets home around 3:00 P.M. and turns on the TV and checks his email while sipping on a cup of tea (finds out about the troublesome issue on subserviently)->then goes golfing with his friends, or perhaps fishing.

  42. eugene Says:

    And he does better at his job than you do at yours GCT. Amazing! But hey, I dont blame a bad chemist for looking for inspiration on a blog at 1:30 pm. On a workday.

  43. ChemBark » Blog Archive » The ACS Has Ruined Black History Month Says:

    [] Ready for another round of whats wrong with this picture?  Good.  Take a look at this ad for ACS Publications that ran in the last edition of CEN (Feb. 19, p. 33, click for full image): []

  44. David Bradley Says:

    Who forgot to switch off the UV lamp after the previous nights disco dancing competition? This could be a scene from Life on Mars meets Waking the Dead


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