What did you do on Saturday night? I'll bet you didn't have as much fun as Dylan Stiles, who works in the Trost lab at Stanford University. He spent the evening using expensive equipment to figure out the chemical composition of his ear wax.
Saturday night, shortly after that oxalic acid rant, I think I started cracking up. If ever there were a reason not to work alone in lab, this is it. I was standing in front of the rotovap watching the toluene crawl over, ie watching paint dry, when I started idly picking my ear. A huge chunk of wax came out. I stared at the gooey mass and wondered to myself what’s in there?
I had a vague recollection of a 5.08 lecture about the biosynthesis of cholesterol from squalene, and how the latter is a major component of earwax. There’s at least one way to test that hypothesis. I had NMR time anyway so I figured what the hell. I scoped all 36 milligrams of my waxy secretion into a test tube and took it up in CDCl3. I was expecting it to go into solution freely, but there was a mass of material that wouldn’t dissolve even with sonication. So I filtered it through Celite and ran 16 scans on the 400 (vide supra).
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