I am not a nerd and I don’t wear a white coat (often)

So, I’m kind of in the market for a new job at the moment. I really like my current job, and the people I work with, and they would like me to stay but nevertheless I have been told they may not be able to keep me on. The situation could change, who knows – but either way, I am scouring Seek for new opportunities.

Which is how I came across following advertisement:

(click to embiggen when the link expires)

I don’t think I’m being overly sensitive in saying I find this incredibly offensive. The ‘white coat’ stereotype is such a cliché and for the most part, totally inaccurate. Anyone qualified for this position (chemistry degree minimum) is fully aware of what scientists aka ‘nerds in white coats’ really do. They have been doing it themselves for at least 3 years.

I think most people in scientific recruitment these days have science degrees. Are they really that smug about their pointless cushy office jobs that they have to refer to the people who they did their degree with who were actually intelligent enough to build themselves a useful career as ‘nerds in white coats’? Really? Or were they just trying to be funny? Because I don’t get the joke. I don’t even know any working scientists who routinely wear a lab coat. Hey, maybe some people become scientists because they LIKE SCIENCE, and couldn’t care less about the novated BMWs, cheap suits and limp handshakes favoured by slimy recruitment consultants.

Screw you Conquest Personnel, and whichever company you’re representing. No chemistry graduate with any self-respect would apply for your ‘nerd in white coat’ position. What a joke, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

You Can Own The Periodic Table!

Well, kinda…

To promote next year’s International Year of Chemistry, the Royal Australian Chemical Institute are auctioning off the elements in the periodic table.  I’m not sure I completely understand what the benefit for sponsors is. From what I can gather, it appears that organisations or individuals are paying for the privilege of having to research and prepare a small report on the element they sponsor. The description of the project is extremely vague, and gives little insight as to why any person or company would want to sponsor an element. I’ll be really surprised if the RACI manage to sell even 10% of all 112 elements before the auctions close at lunchtime tomorrow. Here’s hoping the other offerings for IYC are a little more realistic – I’ve put my hand up to volunteer, so I hope the events aren’t lame!



I have just read the RACI October newsletter, which contains more information on the project.


An important component of IYC2011 is communicating with the public and raising awareness of the positive contributions chemical sciences make to everyday life.

IYC2011 also aims to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the

International Association of Chemical Sciences (the precursor to IUPAC).

As part of its 2011 International Year of Chemistry celebrations, RACI is undertaking a Periodic Table Meets Art project and wishes to invite members to participate. The basic premise of the project is that individuals and organisations are invited to sponsor an element, the sponsors are asked to prepare the following information:

  • Element name, symbol and atomic number
  • Brief outline of its discovery
  • How it exists in nature
  • Its main uses
  • Any Australasian points of interest

This will then be given to an artist who will produce a creative design based on the information. The designs will be shown in the exhibition tour and on the IYC2011 RACI website.

There will be a limited edition print run for each element with the first print being given to the sponsor. At least two full Periodic Tables will be assembled for permanent display once the tour is complete.


  • To deliver an engaging exhibition that brings chemistry, art and history together.
  • To take the single most important chemical resource to the public by exhibiting artists’ interpretations of the Periodic Table elements.
  • To develop an online educational resource for students and teachers.
  • To celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the International Association of Chemical Sciences through exhibiting the 2010 IUPAC Periodic Table.


The sponsor packs for all 112 elements will be auctioned on e-Bay, with a reserve of

AU$60 and the auction will be open from 11th October 2010.

The auction will have a “Buy Now” option for those who really don’t want to miss out on their favourite element!

You’ll need to visit the site to find out the price. Use “RACI Element Sponsor Pack” as your search term.

Alternatively, if you do not wish to participate in the auction, visit http://www.raci.org.au for a sponsorship form to indicate that you are willing to sponsor any element that was not sold in the auction. This will still incur a AU$60 sponsorship fee.

Sponsors must be willing to prepare information on the element for the artist as described above by the 5th November 2010 deadline.

In return for sponsorship, the sponsor will receive the first print of their element (15cm x 15 cm unframed) and information on the artist.

The project will be completed for National Science Week 2011 (13th -21st August 2011) with sponsors prints available from July.

For further information contact Vicki Gardiner: vicki.gardiner@marinova.com.au


Sorry RACI, I love the elements more than most but I can’t say I’m all that compelled to sponsor an element at $60 a pop…


A Discussion with Tim Flannery at the Athenaeum Theatre

Last night, Other Half and I attended a discussion with Tim Flannery, scientist, author and 2007 Australian of the Year, thanks to a double pass I won from the Wheeler Centre. Flannery is doing the publicity rounds for his new book Here on Earth, but host Virginia Trioli warned the audience from the very beginning, that the discussion would not necessarily be about the content of the book.

Indeed, the first part of the discussion revolved around the Gaia Hypothesis and Flannery’s unabashed man-crush on James Lovelock. Whilst the Gaia philosophy is not something that I am a massive fan of, Flannery does sell the moderate version of it fairly well.

It became apparent that Trioli had maybe a little beef with some things Flannery had said or written in the past, and at times she was quite antagonistic towards him. She’s feisty – I like that.

The most interesting part of the discussion for me was the push for a price on carbon in Australia. Flannery is of the opinion that if the Gillard government’s climate panel does not deliver a proposal to cabinet that results in the passing of legislation by June next year, critical emissions reduction targets simply will not be met and we will have a much higher mountain to climb.

Of Flannery’s books, the only one I have read is The Future Eaters, which I have a copy of in my bookshelf at home. Whilst it was at times, a little dry I found it absolutely learning about Australian megafauna  fascinating and could not believe I’d never heard of Diprotodon or Procoptodon before. I actually avoided reading The Weather Makers, which Flannery now acknowledges is a quite depressing and pessimistic assessment of climate change. I’m still not sure that I want to read The Weather Makers, but if I could get it out from my local library along with the more upbeat Here on Earth, maybe I could read them both in succession and not want to kill myself at the end of it

I find the audience at these types of things is a really weird mix of environmentally-conscious scientists (or scientifically-minded people) and hippies (I wish I could think of a better word or phrase to descirbe the people I’m thinking of, but I think you know what I mean). Like one questioner who asked ‘man, we’re like so insulated with all of our walls and locks and fences but don’t you think we should like, totally grow our own biodynamic mung beans in community gardens and totally peace out some more, man? Wouldn’t that be so groovy for climate change dude?’.

P.S. I’m going to be a bit more relaxed with my posting from now on. I am over spending more time agonising over the structure of my posts than what is actually in them. Plus hardly anyone reads them anyway! Peace out dudes 🙂