Carbenes in Action

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Science  23 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5952, pp. 532-533
DOI: 10.1126/science.1181553

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Many chemists are drawn to molecules that behave like feral cats, reacting rapidly and often violently and resisting attempts to control them. But are they really as unpredictable as judged at first glance? Can we master their activity and perhaps even put it to use? Two reports in this issue describe the domestication of such molecules. On page 556, Bertrand and co-workers disclose the unexpected stabilization of “abnormal carbenes” (1), and on page 559, Lavallo and Grubbs use carbenes in new organometallic reactions (2). Both studies open up new and exciting opportunities in synthesis.