Being Smart 2/26/23

Experiences with Richard Bleil

My friend asked me what it’s like to be “smart”.  Honestly, I don’t view myself as particularly smart.  I think I come across as intelligent, but it’s actually only experience.  In 1976, I decided that I wanted to study science, and have done so ever since.  If you do anything for nearly five decades, you’d better be good at it. 

My avid readers know that I’ve been working on (and spending a ton of my own money for) research into the Hydrogen Bond, a non-bondng intermolecular force that has been an enigma in my life since, well, since the ‘70’s.  The way it’s taught leaves so many unanswered questions, and these questions were amplified in graduate school when a well-renowned biochemist suggested a new type of hydrogen bond. 

Albert Einstein as attributed to the quote “I am reminded every day that I stand on the shoulders of giants”.  Science is not an isolated field of ideas.  It’s more like a road that has been laid out before us, with some paths leading to dead-ends to be sure, but all that we are really attempting to do is further that road, bit by bit, and map out how all of these different paths interconnect.  In my hydrogen bond research, I believe that I have a new hypothesis to increase that road, and I’ve found (and continue to accumulate) evidence in support of my hypothesis.  But the reality is that there is really nothing new in what I’m proposing at all.  It’s all been done, just not the way that I’m doing it.

See, with my experience (in part boosted by the fact that I’ve spent so many years teaching not just one subdiscipline of chemistry but quite literally all of them), I can pull things together that perhaps others cannot.  My new advance is actually an idea from inorganic chemistry, typically applied to a different type of bond, which I understand through the lens of physical chemistry and am verifying with quantum theory on a molecular vehicle based on organic chemistry.  Even if you (as so many do) consider quantum theory as part of physical chemistry, this is still bringing together ideas from three different subdisciplines of chemistry, subdisciplines that all chemists study, and yet since I have practiced with them all, my ability to see the connections between them might be better than most. 

In other words, I’m lucky and experienced, which is far different from being smart.

But, as I have also stated in previous posts, this work will never be published in the traditional research journals because of roadblocks put up by my professional society.  If I want to get these results out, I’ll have to self-publish my own book, but there’s a stark difference between writing a book and writing a research article.  If I write my results in a research article style, that is to say with a target audience of my colleagues, it will be very dense, and people who are not in the discipline (and professionally at that) won’t be able to understand it.  If I write it only for the general public, however, the concepts of my hypothesis will be too vague and surface-level to make any sense anyway.  So, I need to write a book at a depth for my colleagues, but in such a way as to make it at least accessible to the general public.

This means that the book will have to be like a focused textbook.  It will have to explain the background theories that people with little (or perhaps no) background in chemistry as a textbook would, but with focus on just those topics and disciplines needed for the final “whammy” moment that hopefully will surprise my colleagues. 

I’m writing this blog at half past four in the morning.  Getting back to my friend’s question, this is what it’s like to, well, at least have a mind like mine.  Maybe not intelligent, but restless.  Laying in bed, trying to sleep (and making an honest effort at it), the thoughts of the interconnected concepts that I will need in the book started rushing into my head.  I started thinking about what topics I’ll need to discuss, why, and how they are connected.  I tried to calm my mind, but to no avail.  When this kind of thing happens (as it periodically has my entire life), I know that my mind won’t let up until I get my ideas down, at least in general, on paper.  It’s as if my mind is restless as it is trying to hold onto my ideas, and once I know it’s on paper, then it’s safe to let the ideas go without fear of forgetting what I had come up with.  It sounds odd, but writing this blog is also a way of resting my mind.  I’ve started my outline for the book, and I think I cleared my mind, but it’s still too active from excitement.  So, I’m taking a break from my outline, to write this post.

Yes, it’s a troubling mind. 


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