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Science Experiments and Chemistry Chuckles

Aug 17, 2007
Science experiments in chemistry reveals the oddest fact -- molecules have down-right silly names. One doesn't usually think of chemistry topics as humorous but one look at these molecule names and you'll change your thinking on that. Try some of these names for Chemistry Science chuckles.

One molecule is called "arsole". It is the arsenic equivalent of pyrole, and is occasionally seen as a side group in the form of organic arsolyls.

Another molecule is called "Adamantane". This often brings laughter as Adam Ant was an English pop star in the early 1980's famous for his silly songs and strange make up. How did they ever think of this one.

"Bastardane" is a close relative of "Adamantane". It's proper name is "ethano-bridged noradamante". It was a variation of the standard structure and became know as the unwanted child. I have to imagine that the lineage is somewhat in doubt.

Another doozy is "Buckminster Fullerene". This soccer ball-shaped molecule won a Nobel prize for Chemistry in 1996. It is of course, named after the architect Buckminster Fuller, who designed the geodesic dome. It is sometimes referred to as "Bucky Ball", and is also known as "Footballene". Why was this so special as to win a Nobel prize, I do not know.

"Megaphone" gets its name from being both a constituent of "niba Megaphylla" and a ketone. This one shouts loudly in order to be heard.

"Munchnones" could be the favorite of the Munchkins from the Wizard of Oz, but they are ring structures in which the charges are delocalized. We represent the ring structure guild, the ring structure guild, the ring structure guild.

"Cummingtonite" got its name from where it was found, Cummington, Mass. For those who want to know, it is a magnesium iron silicate hydroxide. In case I cannot meet you in the afternoon, I am coming tonight.

"Putrescine" originates in putrefying and rotting flesh, and is the smell of death. It is usually associated with "cadaverine" named after the cadavers that give rise to the rotting flesh.

"Dickite" discovered by a geologist whose last name was "Dick" is a clay like mineral and is used in ceramics and as paint filler.

"Moronic" acid is of interest to people studying archaeological relics, shipwrecks and ancient Egyptian jars. Ask me why it is called "Moronic" acid and I cannot answer hopefully not making me a moron.

The Fuka region of Southern Japan has given birth to "Fukalite", which is a form of calcium silico-carbonate.

A plant hormone which causes injured cells to divide and help repair the trauma has been named "traumatic acid". Ah, chemistry and science, what a joy. It would certainly be traumatic if these cells could not repair themselves.

"Arabitel" has nothing to do with rabbits; it's an organic alcohol that is a constituent of wine.

An alcohol derived from sugar is named "fucitel", and comes from a North Atlantic seaweed. When sailing the ocean, perhaps one can troll a fishing line and pick up some "fucitel"

"Orotic Acid" is often misspelled and is called "Erotic Acid". Another name for this acid is vitamin B13. A chemistry science fair project would be a good venue for a continued search into these unusually named molecules.

This one could sound like a laxative, but it is really a type of mica found in Japan and Sweden. It is called "Kinoshitalite" and is green and vitreous and hard as fingernails. It comes from the Japanese meaning under the tree.

"Vomicine" is a poisonous molecule that gets its name from a nut which is the seed of a tree found in the East Indies. These seeds are sometimes called quaker buttons and are a source of strychnine.

"Bastadin-5" is just one of a number of bastadins which are molecules isolated from a marine sponge. They possess anti bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

"Skatole" comes from skatalogical, meaning concerning fecal material. Its proper name is 3-methylindole, but it gets its trivial name from the fact that it is a component of feces. It is also found in coal tar and beet. Chemistry science fair projects could emanate from this one.

"Sexithiophene" is a 'sexi' molecule - which means it has 6 sub-units, in this case of thiophene rings. Because of its conjugated system of double bonds, this organic molecule conducts electricity quite well. As a result, it is one of a number of similar molecules being studied for possible uses in organic polymer electronics. Incidentally, the Latin for 5 sub-units is quinque (pronounced 'kinky'), so by adding one sub-unit a quinque molecule becomes sexi.

"Bis(pinacolato) diboron" isn't the active ingredient in a root beer float. Rather it is a versatile reagent for the preparation of boronic esters from halides, the diboration of olefins, and solid-phase Suzuki coupling. A proper root beer float consists of root beer and ice cream. If you're lucky it will be served in a big glass.

"Lucifer Yellow" is a food coloring used especially in hot sauces, like salsa pickle. It is also used in plant microscopy anatomy studies, because it fluoresces under ultraviolet light and stains certain regions between plant cells.

"Crapinon" is used therapeutically as an anticholinergic. These are drugs which dry secretions, increase heart rate, and decrease lung constriction. The are also constipating, ergo "crappy-non" is appropriate.
About the Author
Mort Barish is co-founder of Terimore Institute, Inc. Terimore provides hundreds of science experiments with step-by-step guides for children in grades K-12 to help them learn more about science. Find fun, easy and award-winning science experiments at www.terimore.com!
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