9-21-2020 Monday Live Chat

Black Cloud

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Duke

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This reminds me of something I did in Organic Chemistry in college. There was a bonus question on our final exam that asked us to name of an organic compound. This was done by using a process where you counted carbon chains and added constituents as they appeared. The beauty of this system, called the IUPAC process, was that it yielded the same answer whether you started counting from either the left or right. In fact, that's how you checked the name you came up with, by redoing the process from the other side. You'd wind up with names like 1,1,3, trimethtyl floride.

I got to the bonus question with just a few minutes left. I got different names going from left to right vice right to left, so with time almost gone, I scrawled "Bob" under the compound just as the professor said "pencils down."

When I went back the following quarter, I went to the professor's office to pick up my exam. On the bonus question was written "+5, originality."
Turns out the correct answer was the compound was bogus, it couldn't exist and therefore there was no way to name it.