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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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October 20, 2011

Georgia Tech Forgets How to Draw Structures

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Posted by Derek

You'd think that Georgia Tech's new undergraduate chemistry buildings would be decorated with chemical structures that (at least) don't violate the most basic rules of chemistry. You would be wrong. Who signed off on this stuff?

Comments (25) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Chemical News


1. opsomath on October 20, 2011 10:33 AM writes...

This Univ. of Georgia alum is smirking.

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2. Anonymous on October 20, 2011 10:44 AM writes...

Obviously that's a beryllium atom in the ring. Or something. Something capable of five covalent bonds.

(I'm a physicist, not a chemist, and I'm still banging my head against the wall at the stoopid.)

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3. Anonymous on October 20, 2011 11:11 AM writes...

comment #1 nailed it. Designed by a Univ. of Georgia alum. Reminds me of the time UVa hired a Virginia Tech alum to desing their new football complex some years back. Turns out the arial view of the complex spells out the old VT logo. Awesome.

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4. anon on October 20, 2011 11:46 AM writes...

Probably some despicable chemical engineer. I hear Tech is crawling with them. Filthy folk...

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5. dearieme on October 20, 2011 12:47 PM writes...

A different thing took my eye: from comments "...a general building that now house undergrad general labs. The Actual Chemistry Department is about 5 blocks away."

A five-block separation between undergrad and research labs symbolises... what?

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6. Not a Tech grad on October 20, 2011 12:49 PM writes...

Wow, and the mistakes are etched into glass and cut into plexiglas. Very expensive to change. Those molecules are rambling wrecks.

Fantastic joke on GT.

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7. Phil on October 20, 2011 12:55 PM writes...

We had an old ACS flyer posted up in our lab that has similarly idiotic structures on it, including 4 bonds to hydrogens and such. Pretty amazing what can happen when you don't keep the non-chemists on a short leash =P

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8. Alex on October 20, 2011 3:06 PM writes...

Texas carbon, yeay!

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9. Anonymous on October 20, 2011 3:16 PM writes...

Ah, the pesky sp4 hybridized carbon rears its ugly head...

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10. Anonymous on October 20, 2011 3:34 PM writes...

Texas bonded carbon; incorrect chemical nomenclature! It's called an Oklahoma bonded carbon.

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11. Vebyast on October 20, 2011 6:37 PM writes...

Georgia Tech student here - you're all misunderstanding the spirit of the artwork. See, at Georgia Tech, we don't like to make it easy on the undergrads. _Everything_ is out to get you, including the architecture. :P

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12. huh on October 20, 2011 9:19 PM writes...

What are those Texas Carbons doing in Georgia?

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13. anon on October 20, 2011 9:30 PM writes...

Aw c'mon, Derek, these pentavalent carbons are no worse than some of the crazy proposed strucutres for natural products that you've pointed out recently. We seriously need some anti-Bredt olefins and syn-pentane interactions to get the party started!

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14. anon on October 21, 2011 8:16 AM writes...

What's the story on the phrase "Texas Carbon"? I want to like it...

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15. Anonymous on October 21, 2011 8:44 AM writes...

everything's bigger in texas. Even number of bonds to carbon.

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16. Aspirin on October 21, 2011 9:23 AM writes...

C'mon, Georgia Tech is just encouraging its students to think outside the box. With science, anything's possible and only your imagination is the limit. Dream big kids, dream Texas carbons.

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17. Chembob on October 21, 2011 10:34 AM writes...

We just had some particularly horrible "molecular fancies" cut out of aluminum and backlit in our new chemistry building (this one houses research labs and the chem. majors classes). Ours are at least abstract enought to convince someone it is art and not bad chemistry. At the least the glassware sculptures are cool.

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18. SteveM on October 21, 2011 11:48 AM writes...

I believe those designs have been installed in Georgia Tech's Cold Fusion Research wing.

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19. anon on October 21, 2011 1:22 PM writes...

They're called "Texas Carbons" because Rick Perry would draw them that way. Google search his O-Chem grades and you'll see what I mean.

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20. Anonymous BMS Researcher on October 21, 2011 10:02 PM writes...

My wife's comment on this: "CP Snow must be spinning in his grave at relativistic speeds -- why didn't they show the artwork to somebody who knew chemistry!?"

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21. MoMo on October 24, 2011 9:17 AM writes...

Given the state of education in Atlanta, at least in the public schools, they may as well draw them that way

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22. Anthony on October 24, 2011 9:42 PM writes...

If Georgia Tech is a state-run school, there may be laws that prevent the faculty from getting anywhere near the planning of a construction project, other than to give input at meetings where university Planning people listen, then pass on a condensed version to the architects.

When I was at Berkeley studying civil engineering, one of my profs said that the "new" civil engineering building was very educational, as it had quite a number of civil engineering mistakes built into it. (While the faculty there *is* allowed to consult on outside projects, they are forbidden from consulting on projects which involve the University.)

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23. Hap on October 25, 2011 12:32 PM writes...

How about any organic chemist? They didn't have to run it past a prof - one of their undergrad chemistry majors might have done it for some pizza. Barring that, could they have gotten some local chemist to look? If there are no local chemists, well, maybe that says something...

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24. Anonymous on November 14, 2011 6:47 PM writes...

dearieme on October 20, 2011 12:47 PM writes...
A different thing took my eye: from comments "...a general building that now house undergrad general labs. The Actual Chemistry Department is about 5 blocks away."

A five-block separation between undergrad and research labs symbolizes... what?



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25. Dr. Pete on August 11, 2015 2:51 PM writes...

It was neither a chemical engineer nor UGA chemist. This is what happens when you let the artistic people proceed with no interaction with the scientists. As the showcase building of the Georgia Tech campus the Library controls signage in the building with an iron fist. The slightest variation in postings is met with anger and threats. However, when we mentioned that we are a laughing stock for not being able to draw the kekule structure of an indene molecule, they (administrative bureaucrats said the signs were too expensive to change. Ironically Roald Hoffmann, who received the Nobel Prize for developing the Woodward Hoffmann rules about reactions in such aromatics, visited campus a few years ago. I walked him around this building to avoid the embarrassment. He was on campus giving a lecture on bonding and very high pressures, and doing a poetry reading (yes he is a poet too). It turns out that at very high pressures carbon can have more than 4 bonds, but it is typically 6 not 5.

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