Angewandte Chemie is one of the top journals in chemistry. This means that knowing a bit of German is very useful for reading older papers (not bad considering I originally took it to be able to eat lunch!). For some reason, this also means that the entire chemistry community gets exposed to on average one bad pun in a subtitle per week. This collection of terrible Angewandte Chemie puns is largely drawn from my grad school days because I kept records.
I might be a nerd. I also offer no guarantees that this will be the last time we talk about Angewandte Chemie puns. There are many ways to have fun with an abstract, but this is what they choose.
I actually went looking for some more recent puns just to spice this blog post up. Since I’m not actively working at a university any more and thus don’t have access to journal databases, I don’t spend as much time perusing Angewandte and just happening across the puns.
The current issue brought us “For freeze a gel-y good fellow”. It’s some impressive work on hydrogels that stay in gel form to very low temperatures. It’s a cute picture of penguins in the graphical abstract. And it’s a bad pun.
Of course, this is far from the first music pun. Other classics I could find in my old notes included “Come on allene” and “The winner takes it al-dol”. The latter particularly bothers me because it doesn’t actually scan to the lyric. “The winner takes al-dol” would have been somewhat better, though still groan worthy.
Also note that the issue with the al-dol joke contained a particularly ill timed pun. “Happy New YerE” for a paper involving the YerE enzyme might have been cute in a holiday issue. Too bad that paper actually came out in March.
Shakespeare Wrote More Than One Soliloquy
I am generally in favour of literary references in science because they provide variety. But the variety is key. Angewandte likes Hamlet. They really like Hamlet. Specifically, they like one soliloquy from Hamlet. One line from that soliloquy. It’s particularly popular for main group papers where chemists are coming up with new bonding modes that involve two of the same element.
I wasn’t able to find the specific issues for each use of the pun, but I assure you all of the following were at some point invoked: “Two Bi or not two Bi?” and“Two Be or not two Be. A discussion of whether electron density is really centred on boron using “To ‘B’ or not to ‘B’”.
Right when I thought they had run out elements they could use the same pun for, they resorted to “Two P or not two P?” which was really pushing it.
Right when it looked like the main group people might be really be running out of suitable elements, the biochemists decided to get in on the action with “TB or not TB active”. It seems the Hamlet jokes are… to be.
There was also a case where they just straight up used “To be or not to be?” for a paper about lifetimes. Which is obviously not a pun but after all the puntastic uses of the reference still got my attention.
Okay the Heck Reaction is Asking for It
As much as I grumble about the puns (and let’s be real I wouldn’t be writing this post if I didn’t think they were so bad they actually end up funny…) it is not humanly possible to resist making jokes about the Heck reaction. It’s an incredibly useful reaction. So useful it warranted a Nobel Prize. But it’s called the Heck reaction.
You have to write “What the Heck”. It’s the rules.