Field of Science

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. One of my colleagues tells a story about a student who wondered what was a periodic acid...

  2. I have to admit I only saw the messed up bonding until my room-mate pointed out what they were spelling. I just couldn't tear my eyes away from the structural train-wreck.

  3. If anyone looked at the illustration on the cover of the advertisement for Available ACS books for 2007, the same atrocious errors were committed and by those who did not have the excuse of lack of knowledge of the subject matter or the desire (pun intended) to spell our a subliminal message.

  4. Wow, I didn't even see the message before reading these comments. Goes to show how beauty can be masked by something HIDEOUS...

  5. What if we think that millimoles are very small burrowing animals?

  6. I came over from the exercise blog. I'm so thrilled. A real chemist blog. This may be a first and I read a lot of blogs! I did take chemistry in college--1 year.

  7. Do you want chemistry? YOU CAN'T HANDLE CHEMISTRY! Tch, tch - such language! (unless you are a chemist)

    Maerkl, Gottfried; Advena, Juergen; Hauptmann, Hagen. Tetrahedron Letters 3 303-4 (1974)

  8. Does this make me a chemist?

  9. I found this place very accidentally....
    I am a computational chemist and will complete my PhD in one year...

    nice blog...

  10. I'm afraid I saw SEX first and then spotted several dangling H2, a pentavalent carbon, and various other atrocities.

    I have to admit it's been a long time.....

  11. If you liked this post you might be interested in "A Chemical Double Entendre" posted on "The Skeptical Chymist" 17 June


  12. I haven't looked at it yet, but I already know I'm not really a chemistry. I look forward to reading your blog to find out why not.


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