A Bumpy Ride Ahead at the CCDC

Whilst the rest of the world may be gripped by World Cup fever, there’s a more local sporting drama unfolding here at the CCDC.

Everyone will be familiar with the annual Cambridge vs Oxford boat race. Since 1829 Cambridge have assailed a clear lead of 81 wins to just 78 (you may be detecting a little bias?). The crews for this race prove their worth throughout the year, including during 'The Bumps' -  races between Cambridge colleges who try to catch and ‘bump’ boats starting slightly ahead. These races are not without their history- they first took place in 1827.
 
This year there is keen CCDC interest. As a University of Cambridge Partner Institute we have several students studying for their Ph.Ds with us and the usual bonhomie may be shattered this weekend, as two of them captain rival boats. Florian Roessler will be leading his team of elite Darwin college rowers, with Chris Radoux in charge of his exceptional Sidney Sussex boat.
 
The tenuous link to something more crystal-based in this blog is the relationship of atomic bumps to the conformation of rings in crystal structures; the ring conformation is generally adopted to keep the chance of atoms bumping into each other at a minimum. This gives us boats and, of course chairs, from where I’ll be enjoying the races. We could have chosen any of thousands of crystal structures to illustrate this, but this one (CCDC refcode NUXTUW) published in the Chilean Journal of Chemistry does it nicely, with the central ring of the molecule adopting a half-boat/half-chair conformation.

The structure of 5,6,8,12b-Tetrahydrodioxo[4,5-g]isoindolo[1,2-a]isoquinolin-8-one, showing the conformation of the central ring