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The lost art of storytelling

“Once upon a Time…” everyone remembers a story they’ve heard that sticks with them till now. Don’t we? We have heard stories from our Grandparents, Mothers and elders, which shaped our imagination as children. As a generation we grew up hearing stories, cuddled up near our cousins and friends, going on adventures with A brave heroes, cunning animals,Mighty Kings and Scary ghosts. Now as we see the new gen Z, storytelling seems to be a lost art..

It’s not just storytelling, even hearing stories is hard.To sit with a curiosity, phones aside, minds ready to conjure up characters out of thin air,ears focused on one person’s voice…these are luxuries in a fast-paced world.

With so may articles coming today of the messed up “generation z” immersed in phones, forgetting the past, I wanted to tell a few things about the things we refused to give this current generation.Things that we enjoyed in the past,took for granted, and forgot to give our youngsters,in the name of better education.

Remember the times we huddled up near our Grandma or Grandpa, as they started to narrate in a broken voice, the tale of the crow and the fox, or some parts of the Ramayana, or the stories from their childhood? We got lost in their narration, unknowingly learning the importance of truth,kindness and hard work. You can very well tell that we have “moral stories videos” available today, but tell me- can a video narrator teach our children better than their own grandparents?

Whenever I go to my cousin’s house, by afternoon we will be in the middle of a big fight- over broken toys or unfair chocolate sharing.Even if the war is India vs. Pakistan, we begrudgingly have to sit together, to hear my grandma’s stories.By the end of the day, we are more interested in the foxes in the story, than our fight.

Still now when I think of my grandparents, it’s all the times I heard stories from them which stands out to me. It was a gentle reminder of the good qualities they expected in us, it made me like them more, it made me enjoy any minute I turn off the TV and go next to them for a story. And they were not my parents, already stuck in the fast paced world, going after their ambitions. Whoever may be there or not..my paati had all the time in the world to tell me a story.

Maybe this is why gen z is so detached- we even made storytelling to a sport. There is no fun in hearing a story for the sake of it. No more monkeys playing with hats or elephants eating bananas in our imagination.. we made the job easy for us by giving them YouTube and minding our won business. So as they grew, they learnt not to disturb their elders,mind their own business- even through their depression and victories.

Now that we learnt a culture of shutting up our children with smartphones, it will be hard to stay storytelling, all of a sudden. Don’t lose heart.A child’s mind is the same irrespective of things around. Even now we have a chance. Let’s go tell a story to our younlings.

Remember, children learn by imitation. So before you tell a story, take the big step of keeping your phone aside, and bring them with you to enjoy the wonders of the spoken word.. let’s create a world which talks to our children, and expects their stories back.

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What is it like to be a nerd?

What is it like to be a nerd? Some ask me… How do you remember so many things?

Being a “nerd” or a “bookworm” is not as you think.. It’s not reading books simply, hey.. It’s not just books even. Its so much more.

It’s about falling in love with some ideas so fast that words and facts engross you. Philosophy will not merely stay in mind. Ideologies go to test with every new information gained… You become a new person with every word you read.
It’s obsessing over a series or story so much that background check is not enough.. all the theories.. All the interpretation of every line.. opinions of anyone on the subject should be known. Feel more and more and more in love (before you get another new obsession!)

Being a nerd is learning something for these fun of it. Memorizing paragraphs of poetry, even if it’s to tell to yourself and your walls.. it’s noticing the intricacies of dialogues and words that can shock you when you first hear it. It’s pausing a movie just to relish that one line which clicks. It’s searching for a pencil with collapsing urgency just to underline that sentence which makes all the sense in the world to you.

It’s being enthralled by information that normal conversation may start to bore you.. why gossip,when you can talk about ideas.. ideas which makes your hair stand up when you mention it.. which pours so much adrenaline through your veins that you’ll feel a child once again with every spoken word.

Nerds may lack social skills, but we make up for it by always finding a book or a TV show to bond with. (possessing knowledge so unique it scares people away may also be a reason we lack many friends..) but haha! Jokes on you.

If you ever had a Nerd friend, you’ll always have something new to talk about. Some new ideas to obsess over. If you have the opportunity to be loved by a nerd, consider yourself lucky. We will love you so much in so many ways you never even imagined.

Here again, let me clarify the term “Nerd”. Nerds are not your average first rank holder,or the most intelligent in class ( we may be if we obsess over the subject!) but nerds are a different breed of genius.

People choose their battles, nerds choose their love.Nerds are the guys who may stay last in class fanboying over series, the girls who are up to date on cricket buzz.. Nerds are the exceptions, those who love the simple things that a first grader may never even take the time to explore. Nerds are experts… they learn endlessly what they love,not what society expects them to learn.Nerds are the intellectual rebels.

What is it like to be a Nerd?you ask.
Aren’t u a nerd in something too?

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synthesis of cholestrol

step 3

Remember where we left off last time with woodward? we had synthesised this molecule.

we have to add another ring to this system, isnt it? woodward?

yes, but we have to protect the isolated double bond first. he says.Isolation makes you vunerable to attacks easily. you get hurt even by things not aimed at you.

Ooo… good thought,so lets protect our lone bond,using OsO4! not just that, we will need acetone too. this is how our molecule looks, after protecting.

now, again we have to add a ring. remember what we did last time?

we add ethyl formate. this gives a product, to which we add methylanilene, in methanol solution.then we add acetonitrile and hydrolyse, these steps leads to the following product.

heyy… er.. we need a ring here dont we? woodward decides its time we did some work. what to do? he asks.

well, we can form a lactone ring, by using acetic anhydride and sodium acetate. The product will look like this.

ring? check. Isnt this ring supposed to contain carbons? why are we having an lactone ring here?(umm.. lets change this before woodward notices..hehe..)

We add methyl magnesium bromide and do a base catalysed cyclisation before he notices..

good work!

step:4

we have done soo much! lets see our target giant again, and evaluate our progress..

hey… shouldn’t there be a 5 membered ring there? we have a 6 membered one till now!

dont worry, thats what we are gonna change now.Woodward proceeds to add periodic acid to this, and boils in dioxane and voila! we get this!

we have succesfully created the steroid nucleus!

The big part is over. now we just have to add all the extra fittings, and we will get our cholestrol soon!

We oxidise the aldehyde group, using sodium dichromate in acetic acid, and use diazomethane to create this molecule

aah, now, we use Adams’ catalyst(platinum dioxide ) to hydrogenate this. all the unsaturation is removed,the ketone is oxidised too,so we can convert it back to ketone using CrO3.

Too much reagents is truly boring.we add sodium borohydride.

woodward is grinning at us. Doctor, you are truly great for doing this without getting bored!

energize yourselves people! hydrolyse the product and acetylate it. This torture will be over soon.. think! add thionyl chloride and methyl cadmium chloride. we arrive at this.

step:5/

lets see our cholestrol again. we have to add this alkyl chain, isnt it?

lets see how to add that later!

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Synthesis of cholestrol

Its time we started making our own giant!

Now guys, this is not the biosynthesis of cholestrol. We are not lazy guys who let nature do all the work. we will make this with the blood and sweat of our own hands, and declare victory over our syllabus. Since this requires of total dedication, remember, this is the Total synthesis.

Two people tried to do this tedious work, actually. Robert Robinson(cool name!) and Robert Burns Woodward (Robert again!). These two Roberts fought for the fame of creating the giant first, and we are gonna see the method proposed by Professor Woodward.

Its well known the synthesis contains 30 or so steps. You know what?Forget the blood and sweat. We are students and we have a lazier alternative! Lets copy whatever Woodward’s doing in lab next to us.(hehe!)

STEP:1

We start the synthesis from the steroid nucleus. Well exactly, we start from preparing this part, and slowly add all the extra bits.

Why this ring? you may ask. Because Woodward is doing so,silly!

He starts with this molecule, called 4-methoxy-2,5-toluquinone, and Butadiene. Who cares about the names? lets see the structures!

So these two are set to undergo a Diels-Alder reaction.(Dont u notice a problem?) hey woodward! the product will have cis configuration! NOOOO!!!

Woodward says, nah.dont worry! and he adds NaH. He stirs with benzene for a long time, and to solidify his idea,he acidifies.The persistent “nope”s has given us the trans isomer.

Look at the molecule we arrived at!

We have 3 unnecessary oxygens popping out here woodward! Woodward gets irritated by our ideas, he simply wants to hide his work from us.He is adding Lithium Aluminium Hydride , to convert these keto groups to -OH groups.

We just got a Diol. Woodward converts it to a Ketol, by heating in a mineral acid, HCl. (Still there is a hydroxy group woody, do something!).

How to remove this? Woodward is crushing his brain to find a new method.meanwhile lets see the structure we(he) now arrived at…

Ziiiing! he got an idea to use Zinc!he acetylates the -OH group, and treates with zinc in acetic anhydride. The -OH group is gone!

Woodward looks at us with a proud smile. lets applaud and appreciate his effort.After all, we are going to copy this exact same thing once he finishes all the dirty work.Hurray!! cheers for Woodward!

Now, we end up with a bicyclic ketone.We can easily introduce new substituents in this.

STEP:2

We are gonna add one more ring to this system. This ring hangs down from the bicyclic system we made(hmm…. Woodward made), in the first round.This is the ring in the actual molecule:

First and foremost,add ethyl formate. With the product formed,he adds ethyl vinyl ketone, in the presence of potassium tertiary butoxide in tertiary butanol(all tertiary substances for adding ring 3!)heyy…it’s a Michael addition!

Good observation! Tells Woodward. There is a hydrocarbon chain hanging…we add KOH and close the ring. This is what we get now.

Finally.. Woodward is happy that we learnt something. This is enough education for a day.. Let’s continue tomorrow!

for the continuation of what happens.. see here ! https://priyaprefect.wordpress.com/2019/10/14/synthesis-of-cholestrol-2/

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An intro to the cholesterol giant

Welcome, tired M.Sc students. Natural products have not been kind to you.I understand the pain… I understand the suffering.
Since first year we have heard.. whispers.. rumors.. of the dreaded synthesis of cholesterol, and here we come face to face against it! let me tell you. The rumors are not wrong. This molecule stands in front of us as a giant, a pain in the (ahem!) mind.I have just read the synthesis, and trust me.. its an adventure!

Buckle up guys, Lets face our Giant.

Image result for cholesterol

yup, here he stands. with a 4 ringed nucleus and two very intimidating angular methyl groups at C10 and C13, this giant seems a big trouble.He also has a secret name, that everyone forgets to mention. It is an inclusion of all his power and might.. in a single word.Its C27 H46 O !

Cholesterol is gentle generally. To know him, we must take off his armor and reduce him to the bare minimum.See what he hides in him. Let’s use our weapons against his cover.

On being attacked with Platinum and hydrogen catalyst, he becomes Cholestanol. He has now suffered an injury. He lost a double bond.

Cholestanol is not an easy enemy too. To take off his cover more, we need to Oxidise him. Not just normal oxidation, we will use a powerful weapon, CrO3.

Whoa! he became a ketone-cholestanone, a trick only done by the vilest of giants, the 2┬░alcohols!

(we will not fear my friends!) We will again use our old weapon,Reduction and see what it does to him now. This time, we use Zinc Amalgam. (cuz we cant find any other way to remove that irritating oxygen)

Now we get cholestane, a saturated hydrocarbon. This is it guys, this is what is left of the giant now. See,now he is not that scary, is he? This is just the preliminary tests. We haven’t gone to the part of synthesizing cholesterol yet!

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The things I fear

We all fear a lot of things, it’s exam season, so I’ll tell about some things I fear right now.

I fear success.

I fear that when wings will sprout out of me,Ill leave the root I have on the ground. The pain of falling is increased now.The blow of failure can shatter me now.

I fear I may forget the days spent in dreading the results,that I had the same chance to win or fail just like anyone else. In the celebration,I may find new acquaintances who come not for me but for the success I just had. I fear that I may start loving the attention, thinking I deserve it- forgetting the next battle.I fear the hint of jealousy,when there comes another person who can always win better.

I fear the comfort success brings, that I may get so used to the comfort,minor inconveniences may make me mad.I can feel entitled to the better portion now that I’ve shown superiority.

I fear the expectations placed on me- to win and win again, and if not I’m not giving the effort needed(put more consistent effort– they say). Isn’t Victory and failure a part of life?

I fear failure,too.

Ooooh, not just the insult that you lost, but the thin veiled mockery from some people disguised as concern.The constant feeling of helplessness,the guilt when I forget the defeat and enjoy a little (how reckless she is? I can hear whispers around me).

I fear that I may lose hope in sucess- that I may resort to thinking that the fruit of victory is not for me. I fear for my confidence, whatever I do may make me compare myself with others. I may begin to question the principles that I learnt on the way. I may abandon the ideals I worshipped in search for a ‘better result’.

I fear success and failure, and the gap in between. The ‘average zone’ where nothing can affect me. The safety it gives, never to take risks, do this as simple and mediocre as it is. I fear I’ll lose the passions that made me feel so strongly-if I could just go unnoticed and unharmed.

Why so much fear? You can ask me. Be confident! You can tell, But don’t you think deep down- we all feel this?

The fear that others may mock you or question you when you fail- isn’t it the one which makes you get yourself up when you are too tired to work a little more?

The fear that you may become prideful if you win – isn’t that what makes you sane when everyone around you is going crazy with a single victory?

So I think when others tell you to be brave- have fear a bit. If that fear can keep you sane in a victory, if that fear can take your depressed body out of the bed to study for the next CA…. Feel it.

Feel it well and good.use it for your advantage.

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The odd one out

People are different- everyone has different views, opinions,interests…

It’s a blessing to have persons around you who appreciate your uniqueness and give genuine support.some think now a days,support is buying a note for a writer or giving a canvas to a painter.I think the gentle care of appreciation and lending a ear is long gone…

Even if you don’t know how to understand painting, lending a few minutes to appreciate a friends artwork,physically seeing it and spending time is precious to them.remember that.

It’s often hard to be the odd one out- your excitement,and your wierdness may be considered eccentric by others..either you are an boasting idiot or a person who gets exited about silly things..
What you may share to others may be considered as unnecessary talk..what exited you doesn’t exited anyone else- and some don’t shy away from showing their keen disinterest.
You may finally resort to calling out to the void.. posting statuses that are ignored by many..but at least you can sleep with the feeling that what u said could’ve reached a person who would appreciate it.when you are exited to share something and are unable to do so,even to the people you call as friends its hard….isn’t it?

Whenever I feel like this..I remind myself- don’t be like that when your friends come to you for the same. When they are exited, don’t be the buzzkill! there is no use in replying poison with poison..bring a little light to this world- let’s at least try to na?