B.R.S.M. All this happened, more or less.


A Birthday Surprise for K. C. Nicolaou

Update 1930, 20-06-12: Just noticed a mistake in my haplophytine structure (cdx, png and jpg) - a mesyl group where there should be an OH. If you've already downloaded/printed this please get the new, corrected version before continuing. Sorry!

Also, check out the first entry, from DrFreddy over at Synthetic Remarks!

Before you hurry to  check JACS, I made this myself. The image, that is.

The ongoing trend towards more colourful graphical abstracts is a perennial topic for discussion around the blogosphere.[1] Rather than draw attention to recent crimes against chemical decency, many of which can be found at TOCROFL, I am today proposing something new.[2] As many will know, the current spate of increasingly lurid abstracts can be traced to one man, American Cypriot and legendary synthetic chemist K. C. Nicolaou. But when did it all start? The cover of Classics in Total Synthesis I, published in 1996, appears to be free of such visual pollution, but it seems that by 2003 when Classics II and his autobiographical Tetrahedron prize essay were published that the inveterate colouring in had begun, and his papers are now rarely seen without it. However, I'm not going to join the online castigation of this questionable new form of art. Far from it. In fact, as it's KCN's birthday in a little over two weeks from today, I propose the WORLD'S FIRST CHEMICAL ABSTRACT COLOURING COMPETITION!

Okay, let's have some rules:

  1. Entry shall close 2 days before Nicolaou's birthday (i.e. Tuesday 3rd July, midnight GMT), to give me time to judge these and get a roundup post together. That's two weeks away, which should be plenty of time as the image above took me around 7 minutes to make.
  2. Competitors are limited to two entries each, submitted under a name or pseudonym of their choice. If you have a web page, I will happily link to it along with your entry if you provide me with a URL. Images must be submitted as JPEGs to save me time. Your work of art should be transmitted digitally to.
  3. Both tasteful and tasteless entries are permitted. Additional (wordart) text, distortion and lighting effects are allowed. Background images, providing they're not copyrighted, are also permitted.
  4. You MUST chose from the five classic molecules shown below. Cdx, jpgs and pngs are provided here.

Okay, that's all for now. Spread the word, and I look forward to receiving some artwork! If you need some inspiration check out the group web pages (especially the lectures), the above Tetrahedron paper and Molecules That Changed The World.


  1. Recent thoughts from SeeArrOh can be found here and here. Totally Synthetic's been there too as has Derek, twice.
  2. Well, new-ish. The idea of a chemical colouring book has already been floated by Lauren Wolf over at the C & En. blog.
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  1. It’s On Like Tron. Will send to you, poste haste!

  2. Game’s on! The Double Rainbow


    will look sooo dull compared to my contribution. Stay tuned.

  3. Hey, I just came across someone’s completely unrelated colour job:

  4. I remember explaining to my mother in the Britannica science year book of 2004 that the colours didn’t mean anything for the total synthesis of taxol. Coul theat be the genesis?

  5. Hi, Guys….I felt that coloring is cool…
    How does he do it….is there any option in CHM draw

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