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The Ci Newsletter #5: Halloween chemistry, COVID drugs and anaesthetics

Andy @ Compound Interest
Andy @ Compound Interest
Spooky season is here, and in this issue, there’s a haunting of some Halloween graphics from years past. There are also new medicinal chemistry-themed graphics on COVID antivirals and anaesthetics, plus the surprising realisation that we’ve probably all been naming some alkenes wrong.

Spooky season graphics
Click the view all the Ci Halloween chemistry graphics
Click the view all the Ci Halloween chemistry graphics
Halloween’s coming up next weekend and there are plenty of spooky graphics in the Compound Interest archives. There’s this previous Halloween special on blood, or, if you want something a little gorier, there’s one on the smell of death. There’s also last year’s look at the science of fear.
Finally, it’s National Pumpkin Day tomorrow (26 October), the perfect excuse to crack out this previous graphic on pumpkin colour, smell and taste.
The history and science of anaesthetics in C&EN
Click to view and download the graphic on the C&EN site
Click to view and download the graphic on the C&EN site
This year marks 175 years since William Morton publicly demonstrated the use of ether as an anaesthetic. To mark the occasion, and celebrate surgery being a whole lot less painful these days, the latest edition of Periodic Graphics in Chemical and Engineering News looks at a brief history of anaesthesia and what we know about how it works.
COVID antivirals: How do they work?
Click to view graphic and article on the Ci site
Click to view graphic and article on the Ci site
The latest in the ChemVsCOVID series of graphics I’ve been producing with the Royal Society of Chemistry looks at how the antiviral drugs being developed to treat COVID-19 work. It’s a little over a year ago that the FDA approved remdesivir for use in the US. While subsequent data has led to the WHO to recommend against its use, another related drug, molnupiravir, has been in the news recently for its potential impact on COVID treatment.
Both remdesivir and molnupiravir are nucleoside analogues, and this graphic gives a brief summary of how they work. For more detail, check out the accompanying article.
You've (probably) been naming alkenes wrong
ChemBark
Organic chemists: how would you name this alkene? https://t.co/LCzOpUz1qk
How would you name the alkene shown above? Turns out the answer might not be what you think! IUPAC changed their naming preferences for alkenes back in 2013 and apparently very few people noticed (myself included). The thread of tweets linked above highlights what’s changed.
The discussion raises the question of whether, if a name unambiguously identifies a molecule, it matters if it’s the approved systematic name or not. Preferred IUPAC names for common compounds are a jumble of archaic and systematic names, anyway: acetic acid is the preferred IUPAC name for what would systematically be called ethanoic acid, but don’t let IUPAC catch you calling butanoic acid butyric acid.
It’s a question explored further by Kat Day in this Chemistry World article, where she argues that systematic names are increasingly irrelevant in the age of the internet.
Upcoming National/International Days
I feel like this is probably a useful section to make a regular part of the newsletter, as there’s always some national day or another coming up! A lot of them are, frankly, a bit odd, but there are at least some good opportunities to explore some interesting chemistry.
In the coming fortnight, there’s National Oatmeal Day (29 October) which ties in nicely with this graphic on the science of making porridge. And then on 5 November, it’s Fireworks Night (for those of you in the UK, at least), a pertinent time to draw attention to the metal salts that colour fireworks, as well as their environmental impact.
...and finally
Uranium’s strong covalent bond breaks periodic table predictions
pHart in a pHrame
I’m always looking to make this newsletter better, so if you’ve any feedback or suggestions, hit the reply button and let me know. If you enjoyed it, consider forwarding to a friend or colleague, or sharing on social media!
Thanks for reading,
Andy
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Andy @ Compound Interest
Andy @ Compound Interest @compoundchem

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