Science News

What's in a Name ?

Sun, 16th Dec 2001

Part of the show Pain, and Pain-relief (analgesia)

Ever wondered what chemists did in their spare time? Well, Paul May, a research chemist from the University of Bristol, has been collecting unusual chemical names. Here are just some from his collection: traumatic acid (now wouldn't chemistry lessons at school been more interesting if we could have worked with that…but it's quite hard to get hold of as it is a plant injury hormone). Other exciting-sounding chemicals are angelic acid, methyl constipatate, diabolic acid and curious chloride. Unfortunately many of the names, though entirely innocent, are not broadcastable, but you can look them up on his website ( His particular favourite is an arsenic compound called arsole, which spawned a fascinating paper called: Studies on the Chemistry of Arsoles. I kid you not.


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