Big Chemical is ANTI-Education (Part 3)

The following details my interaction with companies that manufacture terpenic resins.

Arizona Chemical: While I was writing the review on terpenic resins I made multiple attempts to contact their president, C. Kees Verhaar.  After sending about four (unanswered) emails and then several letters I did finally get a phone call from Mr. Verhaar (while I was proctoring a chemistry lecture and thus unable to field it).  Despite returning the call promptly I ran into a dead end.  To be honest, I was very surprised that this didn’t result in follow up of any sort.  Had Arizona cooperated they would have been showcased in the book chapter itself.  It is ironic that it was chemists from this company (some 30 years ago) that had written the most extensive reviews on terpenic resins (prior to mine); however, this time around Arizona Chemical didn’t contribute a single data point, photograph, or schematic.  Seeing that the chapter appeared in a book focusing on green chemistry one has to wonder what these people are thinking; that is, if renewable polymer chemistry is truly an area of interest for them why wouldn’t they contribute to it?  My hope is that word will reach Mr. Verhaar about my upcoming book and he will look me up and make a contribution to it.

DRT:  I sent several requests to this company for information on terpenic resins and never generated a single response.  Maybe they don’t make these products anymore?

Yashura:  Nothing more than the same sort of behavior as witnessed with DRT and Arizona Chemical.  I made multiple attempts to get them to provide some information to me for my book chapter on terpenic resins.  Maybe they only speak Japanese?

Big Chemical is ANTI-Education (Part 2)

What happened:

A little over a year ago I began what I would consider serious academic writing.  The first thrust was when I coauthored a book chapter1 with a colleague of mine (Prof. R.T. Mathers).  My portion of this chapter was a review on terpenic resins; in particular, methodologies developed for their synthesis.  With this being the most comprehensive review of its sort I made sure to include sections on use as well as market related information (note, the publisher omitted a positive sign in one of my schemes for some reason {and I caught several other omissions on the publisher’s part in the next to final draft}).  While in the process of writing this book chapter I requested basic information from a number of manufacturers of terpenic resins.  Despite not being paid to write the review (as it was for an academic audience) not a single producer of terpenic resins offered to lift a hand to help me.  I was a bit shocked at the time.

Next I began writing the most comprehensive review on chemistries developed for the synthesis of polyisobutene and butyl rubber (another work coauthored with Robert).2  Again, I sought basic information for the book.  Specifically I attempted to get ExxonMobil to contribute information that had already been public (in many cases for > 20+ years) and still I ran into a brick wall.  Not only that, but not a single company that does market analyses provided a single piece of data for inclusion in the chapter!  Again, I was not paid to write the chapter and the book was geared towards an academic audience.

Now that I am in the process of writing a series of books on cationic polymerization and having already composed two top notch reviews on polymers made by the technique I thought for sure someone would step up to the plate.  As you will see below, not a single large organization has offered to provide the smallest piece of information.  I made certain to drive home the point to each of these companies that the material requested was already known publically and that the book was for academic purposes!!!


  1. Mathers, R.T.; Lewis, S.P.; Monoterpenes as Polymerization Solvents and Monomers in Polymer Chemistry in Green Polymerization Methods: Renewable Starting Materials, Catalysis and Waste Reduction; Mathers, R.T.; Meier, M.A.R., Eds.; Wiley-VCH: New York, 2011, pp. 91-128.
  2. Lewis, S.P.; Mathers, R.T. Advances in Acid Mediated Polymerizations in Renewable Polymers, Synthesis, Technology and Processing; Vikas, M., Ed.; Wiley-VCH: New York, 2012, pp. 69-173.

Big Chemical is ANTI-Education (Part 1)


Once the reader finishes with this blog series it will become apparent to him/her that the big chemical companies do not support education.  Furthermore, it will be obvious to all that regardless of their claims of being dedicated to protecting the environment and bettering mankind most that all these people care about is the bottom line.  Specifically who are we talking about?  Well here are just a few: ExxonMobil, BASF, TPC, Arizona Chemical, DRT, and Yashura.  Please see accompanying blog posts for all the gory details.  My hope is that decision makers will see this blog and reverse the course their company has taken and actually support education in the chemical arts.  Dr. S.P. Lewis

Story of the Goat Man (part 9)


Dear reader(s), by now you probably wonder whether my last sentence in the forward bears any weight?  I can assure you it does.  People are beginning to awaken everywhere, albeit slowly.  A similar occurrence is happening in the field of science.  Many of the so called great professors are being shown as the frauds they are, parasites on an endless supply of cowardly and servile students who feed their ideas to these evil masters.  Is one so ignorant to believe that the GM actually wrote 600+ articles himself or devised inventions for 80+ patents?  Obviously he is an intellectual crook at best and for a man to steal his name from another speaks volumes as to his lack of character.  Sam told me that once he was getting ready to leave the University of Asscrack the GM also stole credit for an idea that Mr. Gandhi devised and was even pictured on the University of Asscrack’s website receiving the first royalty check (ca. $2k) for its use (below).  Prior to this writing, Sam told me Mr. Gandhi still refuses to speak out as he is fearful of the GM.  Apparently Mr. Gandhi is too preoccupied making toxic dispersants to pollute our oceans with to bother himself by doing the right thing for once.  To me this just further drives home the point that people like the GM are only successful in perpetuating their charade when others refuse to take action.

Through my own reading it is becoming increasing clear that the GM has left a visible trail (in the literature) that shows a questionable history; especially regarding many of his great inventions.  Likewise, one has to ask will the tax payer that has taken on the burden of cost associated with 80+ patents (none being of commercial significance) finally say enough is enough and persecute those (including University of Asscrack offals {not a misspelling}) to stop said waste?  As time goes on I’m sure these facts will be pointed out and the veil will be lifted from many eyes.  This secondhand account of the GM’s transgressions will only further this process.  As for Sam I’m certain that true justice and greatness are fast approaching, AMEN.

Story of the Goat Man (Part 8)

Sam was now a little more than bewildered to say the least.  How could he have been so naïve?  When he first met the GM he believed in him.  Moreover, he looked at the GM as one of the success stories of what it meant to become an American.  That is, come into the US with nothing and rise to great heights.  Now he realized the GM was the antithesis of the American dream.  Everything about him, including his name was apparently stolen from someone else.  Still, the GM had yet to finish with Sam.

Sam was quickly moved to Dr. Cannuk’s lab.  It just so happened that Dr. Cannuk had interest in doing chemistry somewhat related to Sam’s training.  So Sam began yet another long journey.  It was during this time that Sam taught himself actual laboratory skills and advanced ones at that.  Somehow (after much initial difficulty) Sam had synthesized a material referred to as holy grail (in part because it was a pain in the ass to make).  He then began to use it and make progress towards his degree.  During one experiment (which was actually a repeat of a repeat) out of frustration Sam injected a huge excess of one reagent.  Something unusual happened, the holy grail survived.  Sam then immediately began to devise his first real invention.  Some months later a patent was filed.  Unknown to Sam was that The University of Asscrack had omitted Sam’s name from the first iteration of the patent application!  When Sam was later allowed to see what was going on he discovered the GM had been listed as an inventor.  Despite making numerous complaints to Dr. Cannuk and other people in charge at The University of Asscrack nothing was done.  The University of Asscrack even lied to Sam about the ordering of names.  Dr. Cannuk stated the ordering was done on the basis of alphabetical ordering of the listed permanent residencies of each inventor.  Sam was screwed by the GM yet again.

When Sam left the University of Asscrack he continued to try and get them to do the right thing.  They refused to oblige.  Dr. Cannuk (in his last attempt to save his career at the University of Asscrack by kissing the GM’s behind) was nice enough to place the GM as a coauthor on a paper describing unusual chemistry that Sam was the first to discover (as well as propose rationale for in his dissertation and later on the internet).  This act was the last straw for Sam and since then he has had no dealings with individuals from The University of Asscrack or Dr. Cannuk.  In the end (upon his departure) Dr. Cannuk disclosed to Sam and numerous offals (again not a misspelling) at The University of Asscrack that indeed Sam was the sole inventor on the patent in question (below).  This proved to be the only time that anyone at this school did the right thing.  To this day the University of Asscrack has yet to correct the listing of inventors on this patent despite the fact it is well documented in Sam’s dissertation, lab notebook, by the fact that Sam was able to prevent the GM as being named a coauthor on any of the journal articles covering the invention, and in the aforementioned email that shows indeed Sam is the sole inventor.

Story of the Goat Man (Part 7)

Sam now began to question Smirnov’s results during the meetings with the GM; however, the GM didn’t want to listen to anything Sam had to say.  Instead the GM began to issue an unusual command.  Sam was to go into the lab and make data.  In fact, the GM didn’t care if Sam made a single actual physical sample.  “Give me data” is what the GM said, “I don’t care about samples.”  Sam now knew for certain everything was being made up.  If Smirnov said anything at all the GM would make unusual statements.  One such statement was “You know Smirnov, Stalin wasn’t a bad guy, he did many good things.”  To which Smirnov replied, “GM you should not say these things.”  When Sam told me this I thought to myself, gee I wonder what some of the people who worked for the GM that had previously suffered under the red tide would have to say about that?  Most likely they would be like the other members of the herd, cowards.  Ok, another digression on my part (back to Sam’s story).  According to Sam many of the other students in the herd also knew things were being falsified but not a single one would stand up for Sam.  Later Sam told me how one student (Mr. Gandhi) told Sam that Dr. Smirnov and Ms. Knowitall (another American student) had managed to do all of the experiments for her Ph.D. degree within a very short (ca. 1-2 weeks) period of time.  The hint, hint, wink, wink, nudge, nudge of rampant fabrication was there.

Finally when Sam demanded Smirnov provide physical samples only 4-5 were provided (out of > 50 possible runs) and Sam was not overly surprised to find (on 1H NMR and GPC analyses) that they weren’t even close to being what they were supposed to be.  Sam showed the results to the GM.  The GM asked Sam if he wanted to still work for him.  Sam replied “If it means making up data then no.”  The GM then did something unexpected.  He called in his new secretary (Mrs. UK) and then went on to say, “Take down all I say.  Sam had failed to fulfill his obligations.”  Then before the GM could utter another word Sam stated that he didn’t have to listen to another word and he was going to get an attorney and then he walked out.  The next day the GM left the US to Europe.

Story of the Goat Man (Part 6)

It was now around this time that Sam came close to dying.  While attempting to repeat one of Smirnov’s experiments a serious explosion occurred inside the glove box Sam was working in.  This explosion entirely blew out the back window hurling its pieces (above) a good 40 feet.  It flexed the front window up against Sam’s face and pushed his hands immediately out forcing him back several feet.  A roll of paper towels inside caught on fire and Sam fortunately had enough composure to put that out with a fire extinguisher as the box had a cooling well in it already filled with about 4-5 gallons of heptane (i.e. gasoline).  Had the front window broke Sam would have been decapitated.  The University of Asscrack never supplied Sam with any official paperwork to fill out although he did supply them with a lengthy handwritten testimony of the accident.  They never disclosed the actual cause of the accident to him or provided any photographs and according to the memo affixed (below) with his testimony (below) the explosion (according to University of Asscrack offals, yes no misspelling) was minor.  Instead they hushed it up quickly.  Sam told me that he thinks there is a possibility it could have been arranged to happen (i.e. kill Sam) as he later found an unusual wire (above) that may have come from an electric motor used inside the box.  Despite these boxes having supposedly been under an inert atmosphere he knew they contained enough moisture to cause metal halides (being withdrawn via syringe from a septum sealed bottle mind you) to fume so profusely as to obscure the view through the box itself.  So the oxygen level may have even been quite high as well.  He also knew that the stirring motor for the cooling bath occasionally had an electrical glow to it but was told by others of the herd that it was an indication that no oxygen or moisture were present.  In his usual 20/20 hindsight Sam said use of electric devices in such a piece of equipment (that were not explosion proof) would have been an obvious safety violation.  Moreover, Sam told me that these boxes routinely contained mL (e.g. + 10 mL) quantities of isobutene and sometimes methyl chloride that would eject from immersion cooling coils used for their collection inside the box.  On rereading his account of the accident Sam mentioned to me that the box may have been precharged with isobutene or methyl chloride as the valves for the latter gas we in the open position prior to experimentation, which was unusual.  These materials due to their volatility and flammability would be an ideal explosive under the right conditions.  Regardless of the cause, planned or not it was a turning point for Sam.

Story of the Goat Man (Part 5)

Somewhere around this time Sam had a bad accident.  While holding a 4L beaker the bottom literally collapsed into his right hand and the upper lip broke in his left hand.  This resulted in a trip to the ER, about 12 stitches and a long rehab.  The accident almost cost Sam complete movement of his thumb, the tendon (according to the woman who sewed Sam up) was almost cut.  It took about 3 months of time for Sam to regain the bulk of movement of this thumb.  Clearly the accident was caused by faulty glassware (see above) and days after his return to the GM lab Sam had the GM’s secretary at the time (Mrs. Canned Corn) transcribe his recount of the events (see below).  As it turned out similar paperwork had to be filed with the University of Asscrack by the GM.  Sam saw the GM’s account (see below) and was disturbed because it was completely falsified.  Even on requesting that the GM change this incorrect account of events the GM never did.

Now Sam had affirmation, the GM was nothing more than a liar.  Still, the GM was only getting started.  The GM next moved Sam to a new project; however, within a few weeks the GM was not pleased with the results so Sam was again without a project for his degree.  Mind you Sam had now been in the GM’s lab for about 2 years and had nothing to show for his efforts as the GM would not allow him to finish the first project or proceed on the second one.  Some time passed and then what would seem good news (at the time) arrived.  The GM had a new postdoc (Dr. Smirnov) and also the thesis from a student in Japan (I have a copy of the latter provided to Sam by the GM).  The Japanese had devised the most marvelous of inventions and now it was the GM who was going to further advance the idea.   Dr. Smirnov had already obtained good results and all Sam had to do was simply replicate Smirnov’s results and then he could graduate.

Sam began by simply watching a number of the experiments.  They took a long time to complete and due to the cost of the catalyst they had to be done carefully.  Still, they managed to work each time and after seeing how easy the chemical manipulations were Sam knew it would be no time before he would finish the project.  Once Sam got his turn to do the experiments by himself he didn’t get any product.  Dr. Smirnov informed Sam that is was due to poor technique.  Sam was worried so he kept at it.  But time and time again Sam was never able to make a single milligram of product.  Oddly enough when the reaction was setup and run by Smirnov it always worked.  Sam began to view the data Smirnov was presenting during the meetings with the GM and he began to realize that something was wrong.  The data always seemed to be almost identical!  Still according the GM and Smirnov the problem was with Sam and not the chemistry.  So Sam continued to work feverously and within a very short time (after working 12-14 hour days) Sam had conducted almost 100 failed experiments.  Smirnov now became erratic in his behavior.  He would sweat profusely in the lab despite the well air-conditioned environment.  His body odor was so bad that it was almost intolerable to be within 15-20 feet of him.  Smirnov now began to say things to Sam like he could wind up going to Siberia in a small box if he didn’t do what he was told.  Sam began receiving death threats from Smirnov and things from his desk were disappearing such that Sam had to start locking everything into a filing cabinet each day.  Smirnov was crazed and it would be very easy to slip a few hundred milligrams of cyanide or another toxic chemical common to the lab into Sam’s food or drink.  The other students of the herd knew what was going on but wouldn’t say a word to anyone.

Story of the Goat Man (Part 4)

To put things in perspective, Sam had never really invented anything chemistry related by this time.  In fact, this was a skill that he would not develop until sometime later after being fired by the GM.  During the beginning stages of his indoctrination into the herd Sam met routinely with the GM.  Sam told me that during meetings with the GM the student was required to submit ideas which were then discussed and finally each meeting concluded with the GM retaining the original copies of the ideas that the student had brought.  These ideas were placed in the bookshelf drawer previously described earlier and possibly transposed and cataloged at a later date by the GM himself for future use.  Regardless, the entire experience of being able to present ideas was fascinating to Sam.  The whole idea that such a famous professor would sit and listen to a student was an ego boosting experience for Sam.  Still, the GM was not completely satisfied with the ideas Sam was coming up with so he requested that Sam see a visiting scientist from Belgium and also professor Hardwood of the same chemistry department (not that he was really constructed of oak).  Sam recalls professor Hardwood being somewhat agitated by his visitation and him stating “why should I give the GM all my ideas?”  Sam then presented these third party ideas to the GM but he still wasn’t satisfied.  Finally, the GM reached into his treasure chest and pulled out what he thought was a sure fire idea for a great project.  Unbeknownst to Sam at the time this idea was doomed to failure from the beginning and that his soft underbelly was about to get ripped apart at a later date by no other than the GM himself.

So our foolish Sam began work on the GM’s project.  Despite keeping grad student hours he managed to make progress that pleased the GM.  Again a digression is required here.  As it turns out the GM managed to keep very lucrative hours for himself.  Typically the GM would wander in to the University of Asscrack at around 2 pm, sit in his office for 4-6 hours and then scurry back home.  At most he taught one class per semester (if that) and still managed to rake in a 5+ figure salary.  Of course this is just a minor price to pay for the tax paying peons who reside in the great state with nothing on each end and yet it is so high in the middle.  We will get back to the millions of dollars wasted on the GM’s (supposed) inventions, not a single one amounting to any industrial significance.  According to Sam the GM would give praise by saying “keep up the good work” and “don’t worry about the literature I’ll take care of that you just focus on the laboratory work.”  Finally Sam gave his first talk on this research.  In the audience were people from the exploder tire company.  Several days later they informed the GM that on a recent literature search a Japanese company that makes copying devices amongst other things had recently patented the chemistry Sam had been working on.  The GM immediately did a 180 on Sam.  “It is your fault, it was your responsibility” said the GM to Sam.  Sam was then reassigned to train one of the exploder tire company’s employees how to do some of the techniques developed in the GM lab while the GM tried to decide what to do with Sam’s project.  I should digress here yet again.  This is when Sam started to wake up.  The tire exploder scientist that Sam trained basically told Sam that the GM was going to be made a coinventor on a patent covering an idea he came up with.  It would appear that the GM was nothing but a parasite; however, Sam still wasn’t sure.  One thing Sam did know is that the GM had lied about protecting his soft underbelly and that his project sure wasn’t original as promised.  In another “hindsight is 20/20 moment” Sam told me that later it came out in a local newspaper that the Japanese company mentioned above had previous dealings with the GM.  In fact, from the chemical literature a number of Japanese researchers had spent time in the GM’s lab working on almost identical chemistry.  It was of little doubt to Sam that the GM’s sure fire idea had ultimately come from one of these visiting Japanese scientists.

Story of the Goat Man (Part 3)

Sam began his journey in the GM’s lab in earnest.  One thing stood out almost immediately, the equipment and everything else in the GM’s labs were antiquated and in most instances substandard.  This would prove almost fatal to Sam in the not too distant future in addition to almost permanently handicapping his right hand but for the present time Sam was content that this was where he would learn to become a great scientist.  In the GM’s lab Sam received some minor training in the use of what was called a glove box.  In retrospect he noted that the GM’s glove boxes were far from being cutting edge even compared to those commercially available from the 1950s (some 40+ years ago).  Sam’s 20/20 hindsight recount of this was that not only was the bulk of the equipment substandard but so were most of the skills of the chemists who were part of the herd.  For example, one student activated molecular sieves in a convection oven at a little over 100 °C.  No one knew how to transfer liquids properly into a dry box or simple skills such a freeze-pump-thaw degassing of liquids.  There was only one Schlenk line in operation and it was questionable in construction not even possessing a mercury bubbler.  Sam told me about how one time a 500 mL Erlenmeyer flask literally disintegrated in his hand while attempting to remove a ground stopper from its corresponding opening.  By some miracle Sam wasn’t hurt because he told me the particle size of glass left was extremely fine (not a single large piece).  We will see later on how such faulty, heavily used glassware would return to bite Sam in the behind with the GM nipping at his heels.  The chemical storage was in shambles (one example is shown here).  Bottles with contents leaking and whiskers of volatile materials that had condensed on the cabinetry were not uncommon.  Lab drawers half hazardly stuffed with an assortment of useless junk were numerous.  Not only did Sam never receive any sort of lab safety training while at The University of Asscrack but the people in the GM’s lab further entrenched unsafe practices into his lab skills set.  For example, it was common practice to transfer liter quantities of volatile solvents out on the lab bench itself with no ventilation.  Sam strongly believes that it was his stint in the GM’s lab that led to him developing asthma, a condition that he did not have prior to working there.

Still, Sam was initially content and he found the process of devising his so called “original” project fun.  The GM made a big deal of telling Sam that a project in his lab not only had to be unique but it had to have commercial application.  Furthermore, the GM made it clear that students would share in the rewards stemming from any inventions made in his laboratory.  Sam thought back to a cartoon hanging in the hallway that was supposedly penned by the GM himself.  It showed a thin research scientist standing in front of an obese manager who conveniently resided behind a desk not unlike what the GM sat behind with a word bubble rising from the manager’s mouth.  This word bubble contained a sentence to the effect, “Thanks for your idea, here is a cookie.”  According to the GM such things would not occur under his watch and it was meant as a mockery of industry.  But again this leads me to another departure from Sam’s story.

One thing that I have never quite figured out is how certain events occurred according to the GM biography.  According to the story line his academic career as a graduate student somehow managed to continue not long after the defeat of the goose steppers by the red tide (and US of A) but the sickle of the latter group apparently cut short GM’s completion of his degree (possibly he helped too many grannies get to the bakery?).  I’ll have more to say on what Sam told me the GM had to say about the leader of the labor movement country later in the story (sorry for yet another digression).  Next the GM (miraculously) managed to move to the Van Trap family’s former country and was subsequently awarded a Ph.D. prior to traveling to France and then Canada.  This at times makes me wonder if the workings of operation paperclip or something similar may have been going on in the background for I could surely see the managers of such an operation thinking it funny to bestow the GM moniker on this individual.  From there he managed to enter the US and work shortly for a German company (one of their factories is about 45 minutes from me and is stinky) and then big oil (think of tons of birds and seals being covered in oil in a cold environment) and while with the latter company not only went to Japan but somehow managed to work with the best known (American) scientists in his field of study.  This is all finally before making it to The University of Asscrack.  Now, back to Sam…