On the topic of nomenclature (and nothing else): My wife, who is a medical doctor, and I, as an organic chemist, sometimes fail to agree on the meaning of names for some pretty basic concepts, in our respective areas.

Take “MS” for instance. A clear case of mass spectrometry to me. To my wife, it is multiple sclerosis.

Or why not “reflux”. That’s a funny word. All chemists are well familiar with the concept of refluxing. We love to reflux the hell out of stubborn reagents, after they have failed us at room temperature. Reflux is good. My wife says reflux is bad. She says there are drugs against it.

I’m confused.


3 Responses to My wife and I don’t always agree

  1. Dr. Elemental says:

    I’m a medicinal chemist, so for me the meaning of the acronym “MS” is a matter of context. Sometimes mass spectroscopy sometimes multiple sclerosis.

    I am also of the opinion that a chemist does not “reflux”. He or she “heats at reflux”. Then again I also spell brimstone with a “ph”, so it may be best to ignore me.

  2. drfreddy says:

    I admit that the use of “reflux” as a verb is perhaps a little colloquial. In any case, Dr, it is mass spectrometry and nothing else. Oh, a third one: Molecular sieves is often abbreviated MS, at least on top of reaction arrows. A fourth: the Master of Science degree. If we look beyond chemistry and medicine, we have the State of Mississippi and, not to forget, a series of Soviet satellites launched in the 60’s. Speaking of the Cold War 🙂

  3. CatalysisAlex says:

    I like reflux.
    E.g. when I do a shrimp bisque, I reflux all the ingredients, then I filter off the solids (i.e. vegetable chunks, shrimp shells, etc), and finally reduce the volume. If I had a rotavap at home, I’d do it even under reduced pressure…
    Just shows that chemistry words are useable in the kitchen, i.e. everyday life (don’t forget, cooking is all about chemistry and physics), hence acronyms obviously reflect chemical phrases….

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