30 July 2009

HU 210

Thinking about synthetic cannabinoids (see earlier post) I came across, HU-210. From the wikipedia link,

"HU-210 is a synthetic cannabinoid that was first synthesized in 1988 by the group led by Professor Raphael Mechoulam at the Hebrew University. HU-210 is 100 to 800 times more potent than natural THC from cannabis and has an extended duration of action."

The synthesis began1 with a derivative of alpha-pinene, [1S, 5R]-myrtenol. The primary alcohol was protected as a pivaloyl ester; oxidised to the ketone and reduced to the alcohol shown in the picture above.

Reaction with the rescorcinol in the presence of boron trifluoride etherate gave the product after deprotection.

The mechanism must go as shown. Firstly a Friedel-Crafts reaction (the authors had isolated a non-cyclised species when p-TSA is used instead of boron trifluoride etherate) followed by attack at the tertiary carbon followed by bond migration.

Can anyone think of a better way of synthesising the compound?

1 Tetrahedron Asymmetry 1990, 1, 315.

29 July 2009

Science Additional Specialism Programme

The School Teachers’ Incentive Payments (England) Order 2009, SI 2009 No 1974 provides that,

"[a] lump sum payment made by an authority or the governing body of a school maintained by an authority to a school teacher on taking up or remaining in a relevant post, in consideration of the teacher’s successful completion of a relevant course and attainment of 40 credits at honours level in respect of accredited modules which form part of that course, is not to be treated as remuneration for the purpose of section 122(1) of the Education Act 2002."

All very well ... but what's it for?

Well, it is a lump sum payment for teachers, which they can obtain if they complete some of their continuing professional development.

The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) explains,

"The new Science Additional Specialism Programme (SASP) enables teachers without an A-level qualification or an initial teacher training (ITT) specialism in physics or chemistry, to teach these subjects more effectively."

Good idea so far, they also say,

"The course is designed to develop participants’ subject and pedagogical knowledge and help them teach physics or chemistry to learners aged 11-19 with more confidence, expertise and enthusiasm.

The course is free for participants and the TDA will fund supply cover for participating schools. Teachers meeting eligibility criteria (including the achievement of 40 credits at H level) will receive a £5,000 incentive on completion of their course.

So that's where the £5,000 comes into it.

Who's eligible? From the TDA again,

"Applicants must:

* be teaching physics or chemistry to learners aged 11-19 in schools


Applicants must not:

* be graduates of physics or chemistry


So, if you've worked hard and obtained a degree in the subject that you're teaching to 11 - 19 year olds, no £5,000 for you.

28 July 2009

Caution or Prosecution?

Pictured: The PC and the dog he is accused of killing by locking him in a car on a blazing hot day, courtesy of the Daily Mail.

I wonder if the officer will be prosecuted?

Will a deal be struck with the RSPCA where the officer accepts a caution and the prosecution is dropped?

If that happened, according to Jones v Whalley [2006] UKHL 41, it would be difficult to begin another private prosecution.

CAT of Calcium Hypochlorite

Interesting case explaining about the thermal stability of calcium hypochlorite and its critical ambient temperature (CAT).

Compania Sud Americana De Vapores SA v Sinochem Tianjin Import and Export Corp [2009] EWHC 1880 (Comm).

A company shipped some calcium hypochlorite from China to South America; there was an explosion off the coast of Ecuador. The parties are arguing over fault.

The case has lots of safety analysis and thermal runaway discussion. It also has a historical review of the safety of this compound.

The historical review showed that for a long time the chemical was safe to transport. However, there was a period when another manufacturer began to make the product and this led to a period where there was a number of fires due to poor quality control during manufacture. I raise this point in order to inivte reflection on whether or not there are any parallels with the massive outsourcing of pharmaceutical products.

24 July 2009

Reply to "Wanna Buy My Brief?"

Simple Justice Blog has stumbled upon something that we scientists have suffered for many a long year, which he describes in, "Wanna Buy My Brief?"

The author's beef is that we're having to pay for our own work. Lets have a quote,

"Lexis and Westlaw charge, and charge well, for their services. Should they be entitled to charge me for access to your brief, while you gain nothing from it?

They provide the medium, but you (and I) provide the content. We don't play on Lexis because we enjoy the interface; we use it to search for content. But this content isn't theirs to sell. The same is true, when you think about it, of the cases and statutes. Those belong to the courts, and to the people, yet they sell it as if it was their very own. How does this sit with you?

To people in the scientific community, particularly chemistry, this will all sound very familiar.

The vast majority of scientific research is funded either by governments or charities. The researchers publish their work but the copyright ends up with the publishers.

How come? Did it ever belong to the researchers in the first place?

The manner in which scientific research is published goes against the grain of the ideas of Oldenburg; so much so as to suggest contempt born of greed.

It's pathetic that we allow this to happen.

It's tragic that the situation is getting worse. Under our watch, Lorenzo would never get his oil simply because his parents a) wouldn't be able to get into the library; and, b) they wouldn't be able to afford the literature search and to download the papers.

ps tried to post on the original blog but couldn't get past his spam traps.

Tot Synth Live Blogs

Just a quick note to send praise to the blog, Totally Synthetic, whose author has just carried out some "liveblogging".

In short, the scientific literature is plagued by references containing spurious procedures. TotSynth decided to attempt to reproduce one of these procedures: the procedure didn't make sense from a chemistry perspective.

It was the oxidation of a substance using a well known reducing agent.

After much discussion in the TotSynt's comments section the rationale of the reaction was that the sodium hydride acted as a base while ingress of air effected the oxidation.

Interestingly, the authors of the paper that was being scrutinised weren't being dishonest; rather, their explanation (and perhaps their application of the scientific method) left something to be desired.

22 July 2009

RSPCA Prosecution

The Guardian reports that "RSPCA to prosecute officer who left police dogs to die in hot car."

"A police dog handler who left two alsatians to die in a car during the recent heatwave could face up to six months in jail and a £20,000 maximum fine after the RSPCA confirmed today it would prosecute the case.


A magistrates court summons is due to be served against the officer after the case was assessed by the charity's prosecution department, the spokesman said. A conviction under the Animal Welfare Act
[most probably section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006] would mean the handler could be banned from keeping animals."

The RSPCA explain that they undertake private prosecutions and they have "no special powers to help it do this."

They go on to say that, "[e]veryone in England and Wales has the right to bring a private prosecution against someone who they believe has committed an offence. This right exists in common law and is preserved by section 6(1) of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985. The Law Commission reporting in 1998 said, "The right of private prosecution is an important element in the rule of law"."

The RSPCA goes on to explain that they apply the full code test that originates from section 10 of the Prosectution of Offences Act 1986. This is the same test that is applied by the CPS.

The story raises a couple of questions: would the CPS prosecute in the absence of the RSPCA? Ie would they apply the prosecutor's test in the same way as the RSPCA? Will the CPS take over the prosecution? Will the police officer accept a caution before he is prosecuted?

16 July 2009

Potential for Embarrassment?

A defamation case is in the offing thanks to a recent ruling by Mr Justice Eady, "[i]t is thus in the interests of both sides that this proposed plea of justification, so far as it goes, should be properly addressed."

See, Berezovsky v Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Co & Anor [2009] EWHC 1733 (QB).

As the person who is making the claim in defamation is a Russian oligarch currently living in the UK thanks to the UK gov. As the defence to the defamation is justification; ie, the person doing the defamation says that he can prove what he says: unless there is an assassination (the defendant is under Scotland Yard protection), the case could be very embarrassing for the British gov.

The embarrassment arising from the defamatory statements such as,

  • the oligarch was "a knowing party to a criminal conspiracy to avoid his extradition from the United Kingdom and to obtain political asylum here by procuring a false confessionis part of a criminal conspiracy" ...

  • the oligarch was "a party to the murder of his friend Mr Alexander Litvinenko in November 2006" ...

  • the oligarch "had been a party to threats which made [the defendant] fear for his life".

Embarrassment not only for the UK gov but for the reporting institutions such as the BBC.

Watch the courts for more news ...

15 July 2009

Biting the hand ...

Education: private schools 'face fee hike' reports the Telegraph.

The story discusses the results of the Charity Commission's lastest information about the application of its Public Benefit test.

This is very interesting; the newspaper report only scratches at the surface of what is happening. The report came out because it applied to private schools, which often seek and achieve charitable status; however, there are a large number of charitable organisations that are not private schools.

If the public benefit test begins to bite - as it appears to have done in the newspaper article - then it will bite other charities.

Expect other charities to come under pressure in the future.

ps Hogwarts, for example, would not achieve charitable status. Although it has a charitable purpose, education; it would have difficulty demonstrating that its aims are for the public benefit. Hence, it would fail the public benefit test.

I anticipate that there are a lot of charities out there that will have trouble with the public benefit test.

14 July 2009

Extending Our Reach to Sublimaze?

"Organised crime groups one step ahead of police, Home Office admits" is a newspaper article by the Times, which discusses a new report by the UK gov, "Extending Our Reach," about organised crime.

Buried within the report is a graph that looks at the prices of illegal drugs.

One of the illegal drugs cited in the report was heroin. The wholesale prices and retail prices were given with a few words as to what this could be construed to mean.

My question is ... why heroin?

I ask this in the context of Sublimaze?

Looking at the thickie-pedia link one can see that the compound is one hundred times more potent than morphine (whereas heroin is said to be "one and a half to two times more potent than morphine itself") and it is simple to produce.

The puzzle for me is why anyone would go to the bother of importing heroin when it is possible to produce sublimaze.

It reminds me of the joke about Chinese take-aways.

"Ooooh, you don't want to go to the Chinese take-away. They put cats and dogs in the food rather than beef, chicken and pork.

Yeah, right. So, instead of going down to the local meat market and loading up on prime cuts of beef, chicken and pork; Chinese chefs are going to go around the streets of suburbia, under cover of darkness, looking for cats and dogs to chop up?

In other words you can either set up a clandestine lab and easily make enough to supply the UK from an obscure lock up somewhere; or, you can deal with drug barons in third world countries and run a customs and excise gauntlet as you get your product back to the West?

Mmmm. Local meat supermarket or chase around suburbia under cover of darkness, which is it to be?

13 July 2009

Importing Child Poverty

The UK gov has a policy aimed towards ending child poverty within their jurisdiction. For some details see, "What can we do to end child poverty?" and "End Child Poverty."

But is there any correlation between child poverty and immigration?

The argument that economic immigration is a means of importing poverty is given within this document: October 25, 2006 Importing Poverty: Immigration and Poverty in the United States: A Book of Charts.

In short, poor people go to richer economies because they provide better opportunities for them. Nothing wrong with that as far as I'm concerned.

But let us go back to the End Child Poverty problem; who is it intended to benefit?

Simplistic analysis concludes that the intended beneficiaries are children. I don't accept that.

Beginning our analysis with immigration, the beneficiaries of immigration are the middle and upper classes of the host population. Employers get cheap labour (albeit illegally in a minimum wage environment) but by far the biggest beneficiaries are the employees of state service providers of health, education and welfare (such as housing, social work etc).

The 'end child poverty' policy is just an extension of this exploitation of immigrants by the middle classes of the host country.

There never is or was any credible intention to end child poverty; even its measurement is crooked, eg, relative rather than absolute; or, arbitrary demarcation, eg, what is the extent of child poverty in the UK when it is measured within the eurozone?

The mechanisms that enable this exploitation are passports and fiat currency: both of which have been aptly described as crimes against humanity.

Jammie Dodger

IPKat reported a couple of weeks ago about Jammie Thomas-Rasset,

"... the Minnesotan mother who illegally downloaded and shared 24 songs, has been ordered to pay $1.92 million to four major music labels, a sum which works out at $80,000 per track."

The ever clever IPKat goes on to explain how this was possible from a legal perspective,

"... it must be remembered that section 504(c)(2) of the U.S. Copyright Act allows upwards to $150,000 per wilfully infringed work."

It's worth clicking the link, provided by IPKat, through to the US Copyright Act: the link leads to the section of the Act governing remedies for infringement. It begins by saying,

"(a) In General. — Except as otherwise provided by this title, an infringer of copyright is liable for either —

(1) the copyright owner's actual damages and any additional profits of the infringer, as provided by subsection (b); or

(2) statutory damages, as provided by subsection (c).

Mmmmm. So, why didn't they go for the remedy of "the copyright owner's actual damages" as allowed for by the Act?

Obviously, there were no damages.

Now, you may argue that by downloading the music and or allowing the music to be downloaded, you are denying the copyright holder the retail price of the music.

This argument is a fallacy.

It is predicated upon the assumption that the downloader would have paid for the music if they hadn't downloaded it.

How can this be proven? I don't mean in in a court of law; instead, ask yourself if it stands up to reason?

Of all the people who visit illegal download sites, what proportion of them would buy the music if it wasn't available through illegal download?

It looks to me as though this remedy is an example of throwing out your conscience with your credibility.

04 July 2009


I've just received an email from Thalesnano inviting me to one of their Webinars discussing the H-cube. The H-cube is a piece of technology that allows one to perform continuous flow hydrogenation reactions.

This is the technology that enables bench top manufacturing as opposed to plant manufacturing.

Will report about the Webinar in a couple of weeks.