Nature Chemistry | The Sceptical Chymist

Carry On Chemistry

There seems to be a little bit of silliness in the air… It started last week when Paul over at The Endless Frontier posted about a recent paper in Nano Letters with a slightly unusual title… It carried on this week when Dylan at Tenderbutton posted about a graphic graphical abstract from an Inorganic Chemistry paper (also noted by Paul a little while back). A handy resource for such silliness can be found here… which directed me to this humorously titled chem paper – can anybody out there beat that?!

Apparently physicists have a childish sense of humour too…

(For those of you curious about the title of this entry, ‘Carry On’ films are part of British film-making legend and have been described as, ‘an energetic mix of parody, farce and double entendres’ and, to be filed away in your ‘interesting/unusual fact of the day folder’, were produced by Peter Rogers, a namesake (if not exactly the same spelling) of the Chief Editor of Nature Nanotechnology – Peter Rodgers!)


Stuart Cantrill (Associate Editor, Nature Nanotechnology)


  1. Report this comment

    barney said:

    For perhaps the subtlest Lucky Pierre joke on record, see reference 46 in Waymouth et al. JACS 1986, 108, 1427-1441. (link)

  2. Report this comment

    Atom said:

    I am sorry but I did not get the joke in the JACS paper posted in the comment above. Anyone cares to explain?

    [Editor’s Note: a quick look on Google may help – I don’t think this is the place to go into detail…]

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    Peasey said:

    For those of us who have moved on from a job in which access to ACS journals is necessary (but like a Lucky Pierre joke as much as the next man), what is ref 46 in Waymouth et al?

  4. Report this comment

    Stuart said:

    Good point… (but why would you want a job in which access to ACS journals is not necessary?!). Anyway, I digress, the reference reads, quite simply:

    (46) Waymouth, R. M.; Pierre, L.; Grubbs, R. H. unpublished results.

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    Paul said:

    Am I being too naive by entertaining the possibility that L. Pierre might be a real person? The only reason I say this is because I don’t get how a Lucky Pierre joke pertains to the information (reactivity of aldehydes) that was referenced. Now if they had been talking about a sandwich complex, that would have been funny.

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    Stuart said:

    Continuing the author-of-dubious-origin theme (and thanks to Fabio at Nature Materials for tipping me off to this one) – there was a paper published in Physica B (2001, 294-295, 736-739) in which a couple of authors discuss diamagnetic levitation. One of them is Andre Geim, and the other is H. A. M. S. ter Tisha – a hamster called Tisha who took part in some levitation experiments..!

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    barney said:


    I think the specific placement of the reference is secondary to the fact that it appears in an article describing an almost planar methyl group which is receiving electron density from both sides of the central carbon (see the structure in Fig. 1). If they were any less subtle, I imagine somebody would have snagged it before publication.

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    barney said:

    If I can be allowed one more entry to atone for the gutter potential of that last one, please consider the case of Waldemar Silberszyc, late of the Norwich Poultry Analytical Institute. One article, “Unperturbed dimensions of polyoxymethylene,” appears under his name on SciFinder (J. Polym. Sci. B. 1963, 1, 577. link, requires Backfiles subscription to see article) and it is a correction to a previous paper by the legendary Walter Stockmayer.

    The short version of the story (and there’s probably more to it then I know): Stocky figured out he had made a mistake in the previous paper and, rather than publishing a correction in Fortschr. Hochpolymer. Forschung., he rented out a PO Box in Norwich, VT (where he lived, across the river from Dartmouth College), and submitted the correction in a new paper as Waldemar Silberszyc, with an acknowledgement reading, “The writer thanks Walter Stockmayer for a useful soliloquy.”

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    JM said:

    How about this paper:

    “2-Haloarsabenzenes by arsole ring enlargement.”

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