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.

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