Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Computational Chemistry with Professor Chris Cramer

New podcast episode!

In this episode Sam and I are joined by Professor Chris Cramer from the University of Minnesota. Show notes after the embedded player.

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All times are approximate (± 2 minutes):

1:45 - What is computational chemistry? Also, my phone goes off right next to the microphone during a question I can't reasonably edit around.

4:00 - Chemistry (or at least computational chemistry) seems to have its own definition of "theory".

5:30 - What types of questions does Chris work on? Chris talks about different scales of calculations: Length, time, and energy. Each of which bring their own insight and problems to the table (computer?).

8:30 - What system have you worked on in the past that you're glad to be done with?

9:15 - Odd projects that are "finished" often launch new research.

9:45 - Collaboration with experimentalists.

13:30 - Computational chemistry as a guide to experiment.

15:00 - Nobel prize in Chemistry.

19:00 - Paul from ChemBark gives his prediction for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. See the full Google Hangout here.

21:00 - The H-Index

22:00 - Where does computational chemistry go from here?

23:00 - What are the limitations in computational chemistry? Chris talks about messy systems. Do we need more computing power or do we need a new theory?

28:00 - Accuracy in computational chemistry. Chad gives a bad analogy. No really, it's bad (it works perfectly in his head, though).

29:00 - More thoughts about collaboration with experimentalists. The take home: If you go to Prof Cramer and he says "We should write a proposal" it may just be because you haven't thought about it enough yourself.

31:00 - Chris explains what a wavefunction is (with a much better analogy than the one Chad gave).

33:00 - What is the life of a computational chemist like? What should a student do to prepare?

39:00 - Chris brings up the impostor syndrome. Two episodes in a row now. Chad loves nothing more than listing the things he's not good at.

41:00 - Computational chemistry in Sci-Fi boks and movies.

45:00 - The Fortnightly Scientist. Chris talks about grandfather to his children Paul Dowd and his work with Non-Kekulé biradicals. Chemists will love this section. Non-chemists may need the wikipedia article to understand (but it will be worth your time. These molecules are pretty cool).