Now this is unusual. First, take a look at the title of this slightly odd paper recently published in JACS: “Oxidation of Secondary Alcohols by Sodium Hydride”
If your gut reaction was something in the lines of “Oxidation by what?“, you are in good company. Not long after publication several readers smelled a rat and hi-jacked a comments thread at totally synthetic to discuss the strange result.
The whole paper is, upon closer inspection, plain weird, especially some of the proposed stoichiometries. I suggest you take a look at it yourselves. It is rather difficult to believe that you can add NaH to an alcohol and get it back afterwards.
Anyway, the whole suspicious affair prompted Paul Docherty to try the proposed reaction himself and liveblog the whole experiment. You can read the result here.
It seems that there actually is an oxidation taking place, albeit due to some trace oxidant, probably oxygen. Apparently the whole thing is the result of rather sloppy lab work and – I suspect – pressure to publish as quickly as possible.
This is probably the first time when scientist used the web to test a fishy result nearly instantly after publication and, most important, open to the wider public. this is how science should work.
(via the great beyond)