Silly molecule of the month

As if to prove chemists have a sense of humour, Bristol University’s Paul May has added a list of unusual, but genuine, chemical names to his Molecule of the Month web site. Among the chemical delicacies are the super-tough compound ‘adamantane’ and its chemical cousin ‘bastardane’ (more formally known as ethano-bridged noradamantane.

Then there’s the soccer-ball shaped ‘buckminsterfullerene’ and the natural product ‘megaphone’ from the roots of the plant Aniba megaphylla. There is even a mineral with the enticing name of ‘cummingtonite’ while the stuttering ‘unununium’ makes an elemental appearance too. But, the choice that May puts at the top of his list is…for the sake of decency…best left to visitors to find for themselves. Suffice to say, it involves the arsenic version of the molecule pyrrole and it’s ring shaped: sillymols.htm.

Planetary poop

I just got a software planetarium to review…very nice program allows you to put in your city or coordinates and then shows you the night sky as it would appear if there were no clouds. There’s the water carrier (Aquarius), the archer, and the various planets.

All seems in order, there are a few constellations I wasn’t familiar with – the hare (turns out to be lepus), the air pump (that’s Antlia) and “poop”. Poop? Nice! I did a quick search on some French astronomy websites and came up with the answer, Poop is what the French call Puppis. This one was originally part of the larger constellation Argo Navis. Indeed, it was the stern, or poop deck of the mythological ship, the Argo.

So, not only am I ignorant of the constellations, I don’t know my classics well enough either. But, thankfully the poop isn’t the last turd in constellations.

Caps in hand

A recent announcement from The Scientific World website has the chemical information discussion group CHMINF in something of a panic. Apparently, the medical database MEDLINE is to abstract the Scientific World journal. But how will it be referenced the chemical informaticians wonder. The official name is “TheScientificWorldJOURNAL”. And, yes, all those capital letters really should be there. CHMINF’ers worry that the abstractors will create a whole range of variations on this theme in typing up their abstracts, which means the journal might be listed under several different entries, such as Scientificworldjournal, TheScientificWorldJournal etc. and this could have enormous repercussions for getting to the facts. Or, maybe not. The real chance for panic was brought to light by Wendy Warr of She points out that there are probably countless mistyped references to systems such as Cerius-squared and RS-cubed, “STN Express with Discover!” with its bizarre exclamation mark and the word Discover in italics, and even the Royal Society of Chemistry’s “chemsoc”, which must never start with a capital “C”. Then there are molFile, MolFile, and molfile, ISIS/Base (no dash just a slash), ChemWeb and chemweb, and even, or is it

Google agog

We were searching for a mugshot of a medical scientist to illustrate a news story but Google’s image browser failed us in our quest. Until, that is, we switched “off” the Adult Content filter employed by the search engine.

At this point our elusive scientist appeared together with pictures of the covers of the journals Science, Nature, PNAS, and Neuron. Now, what was it about our scientist contact that meant he was X-rated and what was it about those journals that they were considered by Google to be adults only? Should librarians be putting them on the top shelf? One possible explanation is that Google filtered because the cover pictures of the journals were on the University of California’s Anatomy Department website.

So, the reasoning goes, “anatomy” must be too salacious for Google hence it was filtered. Just think what else you might be missing in your image searches. Incidentally, his research is in the totally unsalacious field of TB.