Mnemonics and rhymes in chemistry

This is a bit chemistry-nerdy but I hope might amuse non-chemists. I think it is common knowledge that worker bees are sterile; only the queen is able to produce eggs. The chemical, an acid, that causes this has been known for several years but only recently has it been synthesized in the laboratory. It is a component of Royal Jelly and is in a class of chemicals known as an ovarian development inhibitor. I think the clue to what it does to worker bees is in the name.

Recently I found an ingenious (contrived?) limerick about this self-same chemical

In sex-life, the bee is most stoic

With forbearance almost heroic

The queen keeps them placid

With sips of an acid


For some curious reason writing this blog reminded me that, when at school, I learnt mnemonics to help me remember the elements in the periodic table. They were obviously not universally successful because I have forgotten some of them. A quite topical one (topical at the time! think Cuban missile crisis), that I do remember, enabled me to recall the first 10 elements in the fourth period of the periodic table. It goes Kruschev (K) can (Ca) stop (Sc) taking (Ti) vodka (V) crush (Cr) made (Mn) from (Fe) coco (Co) nuts (Ni).

English: an example file illustrating the Peri...

English: an example file illustrating the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements using TikZ Deutsch: Beispieldatei zur Illustration des Periodensystems der Element mit TikZ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While searching for other chemical mnemonics I found this one which I quite liked for periods 1,2 and 3 (

Here He Lies Beneath Bed Clothes, Nothing On, Feeling Nervous. Naughty Margaret Always Sighs, “Please Stop Clowning Around.
If you need reminding the element symbols are
(H He Li Be B C N O F Ne Na Mg Al Si P S Cl Ar)

Finally, a chemistry joke (oxymoron?). An atom walks into a bar. The barman says “You look sad”. The atom says “I am. I just lost an electron.” The barman says “Are you sure?”. The atom answers “Yes, I am positive.” Boom boom.

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