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The molecule "arsole" is named for exactly what you imagine it is

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Science yields many rewards. There's the awed hush at nerd cocktail parties when you mention what you do, the sweet smell of urea in the morning, and the ability to name, or nickname, the things that you discover. Plenty of people name things after themselves. Some name them after their personal heroes, or their nations. And then there are a few who just can't resist a cheap joke.

There are a ton of funny names for chemical elements. They are sometimes in-jokes, sometimes references to celebrities, but a disturbing amount of them are butt-obsessed. Today, we will look at the third category.


Arsole is only the beginning. The derivation of its nickname is obvious. Entirely separate from arsole, there's a pair of completely separate ringed structures called miazole and urazole. These are nitrogen rings that have other atoms hanging off of them. The chemistry joke that goes with these is, "What's the difference between miazole and urazole? The size of the ring. Yours is bigger." Urazole is pictured below. (Don't snicker. I expect more from io9 readers.)


But chemists aren't content with the merely human. There is also the molecule cristane. This is a folded molecule is named after a crissum, the anus of a bird. It doesn't look like one. (I would be even more disturbed by the thought that random chemists knew what bird anuses look like.) It just got its name from the pigeon that flew in through a window and shat all over the lab during the molecule's discovery. Rounding out the anatomical names, there's BUM, tertiary-Butyloxymethyl group, a useless molecule that hangs off the back of a peptide.

There are also molecules named after the products of various human apertures. Diurea is a molecule used for improving flow in greases and paints. There's also cacodyl. It comes from the Greek word "kakodes," which means "stinking." Reportedly actually does smell of manure. And just to finish it off, is skatole, the white powder that turns brown as it ages.

This list just touches the surface of funny names like vaginatin, uranates, and constipatic acid, but those get their names from actual unfortunate chemical combinations or weird base words (vaginatin gets its name from Selinum Vaginatum, the plant that the chemical comes from). These are just the chemicals that sent the high-minded scientist's imaginations straight into the - well. Nevermind where their minds went. We all know.

Via Silly Molecules.