Friday, August 17, 2012

My longest project so far

Just today we were told that a paper of us has appeared online:
Chem. Eur. J. 2012, 18, 12372-12387
(UPDATE: it has been published with page numbers at 24-9-2012)

It is a collaboration with the groups of Prof. Wijmenga (Nijmegen, NL), Prof. Bickelhaupt (Amsterdam, NL), Sychrovsky (Prague, CZ) and Prof. Sponer (Brno, CZ), which started in 2006 when I was still in Amsterdam in the group of Matthias Bickelhaupt.

A few years before we had published a Communication in the Journal of the American Chemical Society:
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2004, 126, 16718-16719
that dealt with the calculation of NMR chemical shifts of DNA base pairs. As a result, Sybren Wijmenga contacted us if we could do something for the calculation of NMR chemical shifts as a function of the glycosidic torsion angle. This angle determines how the DNA base rotates over the sugar moiety, as shown in the following figure:

Rotation of the DNA base over the sugar moiety
This rotation has a profound effect on the NMR chemical shifts, as shown in the paper, but exactly how was not clear from experiments. Moreover, there were NMR signals that were not clearly understood, and theory might help here. It took some time to get all correctly (in fact, approximately six years!!), but it was worth the wait. Have a look...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Preparations for CECAM workshop on Spin states

In a few weeks time, I'll be organizing a CECAM workshop on "Spin states in biochemistry and inorganic chemistry", with an impressive line-up of speakers: Larry Que, Jeremy Harvey, Per Siegbahn, John Perdew, Kara Bren, Martin Kaupp, Ulf Ryde, Eckard M√ľnck, Kristine Pierloot, Miquel Costas, Bob Scheidt, Markus Reiher, etc. etc. See:
http://www.cecam.org/workshop-1-671.html
(and note, it will be highlighted in Nature Chemistry)

I have prepared a Google Maps with the most important places for the workshop, and interesting things to visit in Zaragoza:
http://goo.gl/maps/mymsp

The hotel for the participants is the *****-star hotel Palafox in the city center:
http://www.palafoxhoteles.com/hotel.aspx?id=17
The workshop will be held at the Z-Cam center (Calle Mariano Esquillor s/n, Edificio I+D, 50018 Zaragoza), and transportation will be arranged for the participants from the hotel to Z-Cam in the morning and evening.

There is a fast train connecting Barcelona and Zaragoza, for which it is best to reserve a place through the online system of Renfe (Spanish train company):
https://venta.renfe.com/vol/inicioCompra.do
There is a train connecting Barcelona Airport with Sants station from which the fast train (AVE) leaves:
Airport - Sants train schedule (select Aeroport as Departure and Barcelona-Sants as Destination)

Right now we're working on the last preparations, and I was looking back for some pictures I took on a previous visit. Here they are:












Monday, August 6, 2012

This is what a scientist looks like

A few months ago, I saw on Twitter a fascinating page to show that scientists are not nerds, geeks, un-social people, but instead are normal people:
http://lookslikescience.tumblr.com/

And of course, I decided to send a picture of myself to be added. It took a while (some months), but this weekend my entry was present:
http://lookslikescience.tumblr.com/post/28758450479/marcel-swart-theoretical-bio-chemist-icrea
(update: I sent the picture on March 17 and was thus posted on August 6)

The picture is from somewhere in France, and shows me enjoying some paintings.


A thing I found very surprising is the large amount of belly dancers on these pages; especially when I saw it for the first time, something like half of all entries were with belly dancers. Searching quickly, I found only one:
Belly Dancing Scientists

Robin, Talent of the year?

Summer 2015 . My wife's brother came to visit us for holidays, together with their six kids and the grandparents, for the first time s...