A silly Molecule

Even More Molecules with
Silly or Unusual Names


Miscellaneous chemical funnies...

This page contains some miscellaneous funny or quirky stories, mostly from chemistry but also from other related sciences.

Silly Molecule Names


AgO + HI HIO + Ag [Up arrow] (Away!)
[Thanks to John H. Havener, Jr for the formula, and to Bob Buntrock for the equation.]

Himalaya mountains
Virgin islands
alaskene & alaskaphyrin
The Bahamas
The Pacific Ocean
malaysic acid
The Atlantic Ocean
Sri Lanka
The Seychelles
Providencia (Old Providence Island)

But there doesn't appear to be a molecule named after Britain...?

Funny Titles and Authors for Scientific Papers

Neutrino abstract
The title is fine, but is that the abstract?

Crappy paper typo

paper title

phenol fantasy paper

States of Matter quote

Iambic pentameter paper

Spoof articles

Sometimes scientists like to write spoof or fake articles in order to draw attention to predatory Journals that will publish literally anything, no matter how ridiculous, so long as someone pays them to do so.

Proteins and Genetics

Sir Silencer?

And he also found the following in Harper's Magazine (June 2002): "From Flybase, a database of fruit-fly genes maintained by a consortium of research institutions. The genes were named by the researchers who discovered them. Convention suggests that if the genes' human counterparts are discovered, they will be given the same names:

Geochemical Funnies

Equipment and Techniques

Chemical Anecdotes

hydrogen + zirconium + tin + oxygen + rhenium + platinum + tellurium + terbium + nobelium + chromium + iron + cobalt + carbon + aluminum + ruthenium + silicon + ytterbium + hafnium + sodium + selenium + cerium + manganese + osmium + uranium + nickel + praseodymium + erbium + vanadium + thallium + plutonium


nitrogen + zinc + rhodium + helium + argon + neptunium + beryllium + bromine + lutetium + boron + calcium + thorium + niobium + lanthanum + mercury + fluorine + bismuth + actinium + silver + cesium + neodymium + magnesium + xenon + samarium + scandium + europium + berkelium + palladium + antimony + thulium

[This is a "doubly-true anagram" - if you replace each element with its atomic number, there is still equality]

1 + 40 + 50 + 8 + 75 + 78 + 52 + 65 + 102 + 24 + 26 + 27 + 6 + 13 + 44 + 14 + 70 + 72 + 11 + 34 + 58 + 25 + 76 + 92 + 28 + 59 + 68 + 23 + 81 + 94
[= 1416]


7 + 30 + 45 + 2 + 18 + 93 + 4 + 35 + 71 + 5 + 20 + 90 + 41 + 57 + 80 + 9 + 83 + 89 + 47 + 55 + 60 + 12 + 54 + 62 + 21 + 63 + 97 + 46 + 51 + 69
[= 1416]

It would be improper for a scientist to name a discovery after himself. Thus, when the French chemist Paul Emile Lecoq de Boisbaudran discovered a new element in 1874 he named it "gallium" after Gallia, the Latin name for what is now France. However, le coq is "the rooster" in French, and gallus is "rooster" in Latin. There is at least a suspicion that Lecoq de Boisbaudran was doing a little crowing on his own.

Only one of the eighty-one stable chemical elements is named after a human being. It is gadolinium, which is named for a Finnish chemist, Johan Gadolin, who first studied the minerals from which no less than fourteen elements, including gadolinium, were isolated.

Four of the chemical elements are after the hamlet of Ytterby near Stockholm, where the minerals containing them were first located. The elements are erbium, terbium, yttrium, and ytterbium. In contrast, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States have one element apiece named in their honor. They are francium (and also gallium, see above), germanium, ruthenium, and americium. Alas, Great Britain has none...except for maybe strontium which, as Sheila Glidewell pointed out to me, was named after the Scottish town Strontian, in the Argyllshire district, where strontium carbonate mineral was first identified in the late 18th century.

And finally, there is a nice story about the element cobalt, which is named after the evil spirit the kobald, which rumour said haunted mines and poisoned the miners.

"In addition to the hundred-odd names of existing elements, there were at least twice that number for elements that never made it, elements imagined or claimed to exist on the basis of unique chemical or spectroscopic characteristics, but later found to be known elements or mixtures: "alabamine", "bohemium"... I was oddly moved by these fictional elements and their names, especially the starry ones. The most beautiful, to my ears, were "aldebaranium" and "cassiopeium" (Auer's names for elements that actually existed, ytterbium and lutetium) and "denebium," for a mythical rare earth. There had been a "cosmium" and "neutronium" ("element 0"), too, to say nothing of "archonium," "asterium," "aetherium," and the Ur-element "anodium," from which all the other elements supposedly were built.

Other obsolete or discredited names also referred to actual elements: thus the magnificent "jargonium," an element supposedly present in zircons and zirconium ores, was most probably the real element hafnium."

"Although elements 93 and 94, neptunium and plutonium, were created in 1940, their existence was not made public until after the war. They were given provisional names, when they were first made, of "extremium" and "ultimium," because it was thought impossible that any heavier elements would ever be made. Elements 95 and 96, however were created in 1944. Their discovery was not made public in the usual way---in a letter to NATURE, or at a meeting of the Chemical Society---but during a children's radio quiz-show in November 1945, during which a twelve-year-old boy asked, "Mr. Seaborg, have you made any more elements lately?"

methionylglutaminylarginyltyrosylglutamylserylleucyl phenylalanylalanylglutaminylleucyllysylglutamylarginyl lysylglutamylglycylalanylphenylalanylvalylprolylphenyl alanylvalylthreonylleucylglycylaspartylprolylglycylisol eucylglutamylglutaminylserylleucyllysylisoleucylaspartyl threonylleucylisoleucylglutamylalanylglycylalanylaspartyl alanylleucylglutamylleucylglycylisoleucylprolylphenyl alanylserylaspartylprolylleucylalanylaspartylglycylprolyl threonylisoleucylglutaminylasparaginylalanylthreonylleucyl arginylalanylphenylalanylalanylalanylglycylvalylthreonyl prolylalanylglutaminylcysteinylphenylalanylglutamyl methionylleucylalanylleucylisoleucylarginylglutaminyllysyl histidylprolylthreonylisoleucylprolylisoleucylglycylleucyl leucylmethionyltyrosylalanylasparaginylleucylvalylphenyl alanylasparaginyllysylglycylisoleucylaspartylglutamylphenyl alanyltyrosylalanylglutaminylcysteinylglutamyllysylvalyl glycylvalylaspartylserylvalylleucylvalylalanylaspartylvalyl prolylvalylglutaminylglutamylserylalanylprolylphenylalanyl arginylglutaminylalanylalanylleucylarginylhistidylasparaginyl valylalanylprolylisoleucylphenylalanylisoleucylcysteinyl prolylprolylaspartylalanylaspartylaspartylaspartylleucyl leucylarginylglutaminylisoleucylalanylseryltyrosylglycyl arginylglycyltyrosylthreonyltyrosylleucylleucylserylarginyl alanylglycylvalylthreonylglycylalanylglutamylasparaginyl arginylalanylalanylleucylprolylleucylasparaginylhistidyl leucylvalylalanyllysylleucyllysylglutamyltyrosylasparaginyl alanylalanylprolylprolylleucylglutaminylglycylphenylalanyl glycylisoleucylserylalanylprolylaspartylglutaminylvalyllysyl alanylalanylisoleucylaspartylalanylglycylalanylalanylglycyl alanylisoleucylserylglycylserylalanylisoleucylvalyllysylisol eucylisoleucylglutamylglutaminylhistidylasparaginylisoleucyl glutamylprolylglutamyllysylmethionylleucylalanylalanylleucyl lysylvalylphenylalanylvalylglutaminylprolylmethionyllysyl alanylalanylthreonylarginylserine.

A full description of this molecule and the history of its name is given at

Trilobite molecule
  • Here's another chemical curiosity: researchers have recently predicted the existence of a giant two-atom rubidium molecule with an electron cloud resembling a trilobite, the ancient, hard-shelled creature which lived over 300 million years ago. The peaks in the figure (left) represent the probability of finding a valence Rb electron at different points in space. Although it has yet to be seen experimentally, the trilobite molecule would have many remarkable properties. For example, it would be huge for something consisting of just two atoms: calculations suggest that the cores of the Rb atoms would be separated from anywhere between 500-50,000 Å.

"In Pharmacology all drugs have two names - a trade name and a generic name. For example, the trade name of Tylenol has a generic name of acetaminophen (or paracetamol in the UK). Aleve is also called naproxen. Amoxil is also called amoxicillin and Advil is also called ibuprofen.

The FDA has been looking for a generic name for Viagra. After careful consideration by a team of government experts, it recently announced that it has settled on the generic name of mycoxafloppin. Also considered were : mycoxafailin, mydixadrupin, mydixarizin, mydixadud, dixafix, and of course, ibepokin."

placebos?"Placebos raise a problem in these days of the pharmacist labeling pill bottles with their contents. One cannot admit that the pill is nothing but sugar if it is to work, so a fancy brand name is needed. Among the proposals made in the scientist's humor magazine The Journal of Irreproducible Results for what to name a brand-name placebo are Confabulase, Gratifycin, Deludium, Hoaxacillin, Dammitol, Placebic Acid and Panacease." Apparently, 'obecalp' is also used as well.

    Did you hear about the chemist who walked into a pub and asked for a pint of adenosine triphosphate?
    The bartender said "Sure thing...that'll be ATP, please."     (80p in English money, geddit?)

Crazy diagrams


Even molecules do it....

Krypton in a Periodic table

Schlosser's superbases

Animal molecules

Panda falling penguin poo

9 Circles

is it trump?

Chemical stories

This wonderful chemical story appeared in J. Chem. Educ. July 1960, p354

The Case of the Missing Joules

Inspector Sherlock Ohms, of Standard International Yard, was driving across the Wheetstone Bridge in his '09 Maxwell. He was trying to remember Ava Gadro's number so he could call and data for the Policeman's Ball-when suddenly he blew a tire.

"OH- Nernst" said Sherlock, "I don't have a tire ion with me, but luckily ammonia short distance from the Ideal Gas Station."

(This business was handled by Saul Vent, who, at the moment, was freon bail).

Just as the inspector emerged from the station, a rubber policeman whizzed by on his Carnot cycle. Ohms knew he was deuteride by, but he wondered watt made him rush so. He shouted atom, but he was gone. Ohms' reaction was instantaneous. By radio activity he learned that Micro Farad, Recipro City's top-ranking rookie, was chasing a joule thief.

Ohms chased Micro down Elect Road, around the Elastic Modulus, back over Salt Bridge and up into Farren Heights. He turned left at the Old Ball Mill, went past the Mono Clinic, the Palladium, and all the way to the liquid junction at Endothermic Street. They were almost across the city line when Sherlock's car swerved and crashed into a Van der Waal. The impact splintered the Plancks and punched a big hole in the hydrolysis system.

"I node that was going to happen," said Sherlock, "but I'd beta catch up to him."

Quickly he volted out of his rectilinear and took up the chase on foot. He soon came across Micro, standing in a magnetic field, holding Ann Hydrate and Al Doll at bay.

"Watt's the meaning of this?" queried the Inspector, and the copper was quick to explain.

"Well, Sir, I stopped in at the Invar Bar, a local dyne and dance spot, for a couple of quartz of Lambert Beer when I noticed Ann Hydrate sitting alone at a two-place log table. I knew some joule thieves had made a radon Ethyl Benzene's country estate, and I spotted one of the Benzene rings on her, along with a para Ethyl's earrings.

"Anode an explanation of this, but before I could torque to her, she was in her coat of rust and out the door. Being true to the Kopp's Rule, I was quick to follow; but when she got into her Monochromatic-8, I knew I was infra tough chase. Fortunately her engine started Fehling just beyond the city limits and I caught her."

"She had led me to the missing joules, and also to her accomplice, Al Doll, who was about to barium in a hollow common log, under the square roots of this deserted magnetic field. While we were waiting for you, their other partner, Cal Orie, tried to run me down with his Mercury. Did that make my blood Boyle! I dodged and hit him with a bag of Boltz . . . man! Did that change his molar concentration!"

"But really, Inspector, there wasn't any trig in catching these joule thieves. I just Van't Hoff on a normal lead - don't you zinc that explains it?"

Inspector Ohms beamed. "Son, you'll go on nights for this!"

(In effect, this was a promotion - for in Recipro City, nitrates are much mohr than those faraday man.)


New Element discovered

A major research institution recently announced the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science. This new element tentatively has been named "Corporatium." Corporatium has 1 neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 111 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

Corporatium - a  major constituent of paperThese 312 particles are held together by a force called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Since Corporatium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected as it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact.

A minute amount of Corporatium causes one reaction to take over 4 days to complete when it would normally take less than a second. Corporatium has a normal half-life of 3 years; it does not decay but instead undergoes a reorganization, in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons and assistant deputy neutrons exchange places.

In fact, Corporatium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization causes some morons to become neutrons forming isodopes. This characteristic of moron-promotion leads some scientists to speculate that Corporatium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as "Critical Morass."

You will know it when you see it...

[There's another version of this, where the densest element is called "Bushcronium", with symbol "Du" for "Dubya". The rest of the article is the same, but then the following is added at the end]:

When catalyzed with money, Bushcronium activates Foxnewsium (Fx), an element that radiates orders of magnitude more energy, albeit as incoherent noise, since it has 1/2 as many peons but twice as many morons.
The "nucular" reaction alluded to below, where Du combines with Foxnewsium when bombarded by a moron beam yields:
Du + m (morons) + Fx = DumFx
which is sometimes phonetically pronounced to describe the nature of the isodope produced.

Chemical songs, poems and limericks

"A mosquito was heard to complain
that a chemist had poisoned his brain.
The cause of his sorrow
was paradichloro-

"Ernie was a chemist,
now Ernie is no more.
For what he thought was H2O, was H2SO4."

Poor Jimmy, finding life a bore,
Drank some H2SO4.
Jimmy's father, an MD,
Gave him CaCO3.
Now he's neutralised, it's true,
But he's full of CO2.       [The last line to be interrupted by a burping sound!]

There was a young chemist from Ryde,
Who drank a foul poison and died.
It was ortho-hydroxy-
tri-nitro benzaldehyde!

A chemist named Ehrlich, unclean,
Engaged in researches obscene.
He injected the poxy
with bis(para-hydroxy
meta-amino arseno-benzene).

O Lord, I kneel upon my knees
and pray that all my syntheses
may no longer be inferior
to those conducted by bacteria.

Urea, I just made a compound, Urea!
C-O-N-H-2-2, it makes me kind of blue to see
Urea, I'll never stop making Urea,
For suddenly I've found
How wonderful compounds can be!
Urea! Say it loud and there's music playing.
Say it soft, and it smells like decaying.
Urea, I'll never stop making Urea!
The most beautiful compound I ever made...
Urea, Urea!

And here's another, to the tune of 'Waltzing Matilda'.

Once a jolly beaker camped by a washing sink
Under the hood in a lab'ratory,
And he sang as he washed and waited till his acid boiled,
"You'll come a-washin' me test tube with me!"
"Washin' me test tube, washin' me test tube,
You'll come a-washin' me test tube with me!"
And he sang as he washed and waited till his acid boiled,
"You'll come a-washin' me test tube with me!"

And here's another, to the tune of the country-&-western song from 1963, "Abilene", made famous by George Hamilton IV:

Alanine, Alanine,
Prettiest compound I've ever seen.
It's both an acid and an amine,
O Alanine, my Alanine.




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