Thursday, May 01, 2008

How to tell if you're really a chemist

You pronounce unionized as UN-ionized not union-ized.
When you hear the word mole, you don't think of an animal.
Milli is a prefix, not a girl's name.

This Sceptical Chemist blog post suggests a new test to tell if you're really a chemist. What do you see when you look at this illustration by Joon Mo Kang? If the first things you see are five bonds to carbon, and three bonds to a hydrogen, you're a chemist. If that's all you see - you are really a chemist.

A couple of chemists missed the point of the illustration so completely they wrote to the NY Times to let them know of their chemical illiteracy. Another blogger was also vexed by the nonsensical molecule.

I'll admit it -- I saw five bonds.


  1. Wow, I'm not even really a chemist and I'm really a chemist. I had to go ask the internet for help. (Well, ok, it was you being less cryptic somewhere else.)

  2. Anonymous10:41 PM

    I guess I'm part chemist...I noticed several other violations of valence laws, but didn't immediately see the five carbon bonds.

  3. Don't know if I would have seen "the word" unless I read the title of the article.

    Brings back the memory of how taking organic chemistry inspired quite a few doodles... especially those carbon rings. No... I never had a chemist look at one of my doodles and say that it was incorrect.

  4. Boy, you chemists are a bucket of laughs.

    Carbon rings are found in a poorly cleaned rifle barrel. Valence bonds are the hooks for the valence over the living room windows.

  5. I had an absolutely awful chem teacher in high school. Just about the only thing I learned in that class was (and I quote) "A mole is a number, like a dozen." That little piece of wisdom has stuck with me since 1981, along with pitifully few chemical symbols. I'm afraid to look at that drawing.