This week we'll present some odd scientific names, useless but fun.
If the name draculin reminds you of Dracula and vampires, you're right on the mark.
1. an anticoagulent enzyme in the saliva of vampire bats, which prevents the blood from clotting at the site at which the bat sucks.
---- and/or [the sources are unclear] ----
2. a blood-thinning medicine made from that saliva, or artificially, and used in heart attacks and strokes.
Venezuelan researchers, working with the common vampire bat, isolated and named this substance in 1995.
I suppose draculin belongs on my list of eponyms!
This emblem of three bent legs, joined at the hip and radiating out from a center, appears on the Manx flag (that is, the flag of the Isle of Man). Accordingly, the name manxane was bestowed upon a molecule with that three-bent-parts-radiating structure.
A later varient molecule, with a different atom at the juncture point, was named manxine. Why? Because manxane and manxine sound like masculine and feminine forms, which is appropriate for items whose difference is at the juncture of the legs.
The Manx emblem is known in Greek as the triskelion, from three + legs.
In turn, skelos (literally "bent") is related to "scalene" as in the side of a triangle. It is also related to "scoliosis" or curvature of the spine.
For those unaware: a scalene triangle is one having three unequal sides.
Fascinating to learn of the triskelion, Robert. I'd have never anticipated that there was a name for such a thing.
Notwithstanding its name, cummingtonite is not an aphrodisiac. It is a brown mineral, first found in Cummington, Massachusetts in 1825. Its scientific name is magnesium iron silicate hydroxide.
Cummintonite is also the name of a family of minerals, which includes related minerals grunerite and magnesiocummingtonite, with different proportions of magnesium to iron.
Anthophyllite has the exact same formula as cummingtonite but a different structure. That sort of situation is called polymorphism, and if it seems odd, recall the best known example of polymorphism: graphite and diamond are two forms of carbon, with different arrangements of the atoms.
You're obviously not a trekkie.
Cristane (tricyclo[18.104.22.168]decane) was first discovered at Brown University. It seems that that evening, someone left the window to the lab open, and the next morning it was discovered that a pidgeon had flown in and left deposits throughout.
Since a crissum is the anus of a bird, the new chemical was named cristane to honor the pidgeon's contribution to science. That is, if you can view it as a contribution rather than an editorial comment.
(Note: I do not have 2-source confirmation for this tale.)
It's now Friday, so I feel I can add a few more without risking stealing anyone's thunder...
Along the lines of crissane, I would offer squalene, the chemical that gives feces its characteristic aroma, the odor if you will of living in squalor.
There are a few geometrically-named compounds too, of which the most dramatic is a highly stressed compound with eight linked carbon atoms with the formula C8H8, called boxane. (Conceiving the shape is left as an exercise for the reader.) I heard of it first when it was just a mental conception but have been given to understand that someone (doubtless with too much time on his hands) has actually synthesized it. There is also the polyunsaturated "boxene" about which I have no further information.
And of course there is Buckminsterfullerene, the simplest of a group of spherically-shaped carbon compounds. This one is C-60 and arranged in the lattice of a geodesic dome, whence the name. They are informally called "buckyballs" and have found significant uses in industry.
Actually, crissum refers to the feathers around the opening, which is called a cloaca. Birds have only one orifice for feces, urine and sex (the white part of the bird dropping on your windshield is urine).
Let's not forget cadaverine and putrescine, two short carbon chains with an NH2 group at each end, found in rotting meat, formed when amino (hence the NH2 groups) acids decompose.
Vitamin B-13, obviously an important chemical, is pyrimidinecarboxylic acid, otherwise known as orotic acid. But the latter name has so often been misspelled in the literature that one can also use the misspelled name, erotic acid. It is apparently a precursor chemical in the synthesis of certain narcotics.
Possibly the longest word (if you can call it a word)in English is chemical name for the protein tryptophan synthetase. It has 1913 letters and lists 278 amino acids. You'll find it in Mrs. Bryne's Dictionary and several on-line sources, They seem to have difficulty to typing it accurately, for ever source I've found in fact has a different number of letters or of acids, or misnamings that are obvious once you find them. Putting it together, here is what I hope is the accurate word.
I've inserted some errors as a copyright trap!This message has been edited. Last edited by: wordcrafter,
The only reference to the odor of squalene I could find was this MSDS (Material Data Saftey Sheet), which says it has a "faint, agreeable odor" (9. "Physical and Chemical Properties"). Perhaps you meant skatole .
I thought the odor of feces was primarily caused by sulfer compounds produced by bacteria.
This source says "The characteristic odor of feces is caused by certain organic chemicals, primarily skatole." And here's a Wikipedia article on feces.
Have you ever thought that drawings of the structure of molecules resemble children's stick-figures? The most familiar stick-figure is that of a person. Inevitably, chemists have set out to create person-shaped molecules, as they explain in Journal of Organic Chemistry, in dry scientific language:
How were these little people named? Authors Chanteau and Tour explain, in science-talk.
Whew! Glad to know they appreciate the benefits of 'rapid cognitive classification', a/k/a 'quick recognition'.This message has been edited. Last edited by: wordcrafter,
Likely I did. And when I said "boxane" it should have been "cubane." Thanks both for the correct terms.
Hadn't heard of the NanoPutians before. Will wonders never cease! "More things on Heaven and Earth, Horatio..."
What a board we have here!
Hab is so smart that he's surprised to find a word he didn't already know.
And arnie's so smart we haven't yet found a word that he didn't already know.
And aput and zmj are so learned that the things they know often remain beyond my comprehension, even after they've explained them.
Hmmmm.... Since "putain" is French for "whore," do we have molecular French hookers here?