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Structure 2010, The Faulkner Rules, and a Philosophical Basis of Structural Elucidation

March 5, 2010

I was fortunate enough to attend the inaugural Structure 2010 conference in Leicestershire, UK last week.

This was a terrific event that focused on the structure elucidation of small molecules. The program for this conference was outstanding.

Unfortunately I didn’t get the opportunity to attend every single talk, but the highlights for me were presentations by Lucio Frydman, Don Richards, and Christina Thiele.

Another great talk was given by my friend Mark O’Neil Johnson from Sequoia Sciences who truly is one of the best presenters I have ever had the privilege to watch. Great message, lots of pictures, and he’s doing some really cool stuff.

I was also fortunate enough to do a workshop at this conference about Computer Assisted Structure Elucidation.

There was some overlap between my talk, Mark’s talk, and Don Richard’s talk and I think we all drew from the basic philosophy of the Faulkner Rules.

The Faulkner Rules were presented by the late great John Faulkner who was a professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

While quite straightforward and understandable, I think even after many years, the cardinal rules about elucidation still stand the test of time:

Rule 1: Never propose a structure before you have accumulated ALL possible spectral data. (Of course I believe these rules were first defined when 2D NMR was not all that routine and the abundance of different experiments were not available, but I still think this is a solid point).

Rule 2: If the structure is incompatible with any measurement, however minor, then the structure is wrong

Rule 3: Always find alternative structures before others do so and evaluate all alternative structures in a systematic manner.

Rules to live by, I think

Faulkner
David John Faulker 1942-2002

3 Replies to “Structure 2010, The Faulkner Rules, and a Philosophical Basis of Structural Elucidation”

  1. Les règles de Faulkner ont été présentés par le regretté John Faulkner grande qui était un professeur à la Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

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