1442: Chemistry

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These are all sans-serif compounds. Serif compounds are dramatically different and usually much more reactive.
Title text: These are all sans-serif compounds. Serif compounds are dramatically different and usually much more reactive.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Rough draft. Need to explain why Hydrogen forms a crystal structure, the origin of "Mydrane", and title text, along with general improvements and proof reading.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

Chemical bonding is a well-known subject which explains the formation of molecules from atoms. This comic refers to three chemical elements: Carbon (C), Hydrogen (H), and Oxygen (O). In real chemistry, the formation of bonds between atoms depends on the number of valence electrons each atom has, and how accessible those electrons are for bonding. The comic jokingly replaces valence electron theory with a theory that the number of bonds an atom can form depends on the number of leaf vertices possessed by the chemical symbol's letter. A leaf vertex is a vertex having only one edge connecting to one other vertex. "H" for example, the chemical symbol of Hydrogen, has 4 leaf vertices. This is shown in the comic by the four half-circles placed at each leaf vertex of the "H". Thus, in the comic's theory, elemental hydrogen can form 4 bonds. Oxygen, however, having the chemical symbol "O", has no leaf vertices, and according to the comic's theory should not bond to anything, and is therefore inert.

The title text points out that the theory as presented only applies to sans-serif text. A serif is a small line across the end of each stroke. "H", for instance, would have four serifs, each with two leaf vertices. Thus hydrogen in a serif font would be able to form 8 bonds making it, according to the comic's theory, "more reactive".

Of course, the theory is completely inconsistent with observed chemistry. While the comic declares oxygen is inert and forms no bonds, this is not really the case: the two unpaired valence electrons in a lone oxygen atom makes oxygen reactive, and oxygen readily form molecules. Diatomic oxygen, O2, makes up about 20.9% of Earth's atmosphere, and is essential for aerobic life, including human life. Similarly, a water molecule consists of an oxygen atom tightly bonded to two hydrogen atoms.

By observing real chemical compounds, chemists have deduced that hydrogen atoms really have 1 valence electron, carbon 4 and oxygen 2, allowing Hydrogen to have up to 1 bond, carbon up to 4, and oxygen up to 2. Thus it is Carbon which can have up to four bonds, and really is often found in crystalline form in nature (e.g., diamonds, coal); Oxygen which can have up to 2 bonds, and can combine with Carbon to form CO2 (instead of C2H in the comic). We can see here that Randall is giving "typographic" Hydrogen real-life Carbon qualities, since "typographic" hydrogen can have 4 bonds, just like real-life carbon. The same goes for giving "typographic" Carbon real-life oxygen qualities, etc. "Typographic" oxygen simply takes on the properties of the real-life noble gases in the comic (Helium, etc.), which form no bonds and are inert, just like "typographic" Oxygen is in the comic.

There is an element in real life analogous to the comic's "hydrogen" - carbon atoms have four valence electrons, and can thus form lattices with other carbon atoms. Diamond consists of pure carbon in which each atom forms four tetrahedral bonds with its neighboring carbon atoms. Graphite is another form of solid carbon where the bond configuration is different. Oxygen atoms in reality have two valence electrons, and thus can form a bond to each of two hydrogen atoms to form water (H2O); alternatively two oxygen atoms can each share both their valence electrons with a carbon atom to create two "double" bonds in carbon dioxide (CO2). There are also real elements analogous to the comic's "O": atoms of the inert gas elements (sometimes called "noble gases") such as helium have no valence electrons.


[The symbol for Hydrogen is shown.]

Hydrogen can form four bonds. It readily bonds with itself, and often exists as a crystal.

[A diagram with several 'H's is shown. The 'H's are connected in a pattern.]

Crystalline Hydrogen

[The symbol for Carbon is shown.]

Carbon can only form two bonds. It readily bonds with Hydrogen to form C2H (Mydrane) or itself.

[Two diagrams, one with two 'C's connected and one with two 'C's and an 'H' connected are shown.]

[The symbol for Oxygen is shown.]

Oxygen is inert, forming no bonds...

[A diagram of several 'O's is shown. None are connected to anything.]

Monoatomic Oxygen gas.

Typographic Chemistry

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"I" would have two in Randall's system as a sans-serif element, and four as a serif element. 00:51, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
The crossbar on "I" is actually not a serif, it's a part of the letter. Some popular sans-serif fonts that have a crossbar on "I" include Tahoma and Verdana. --Zagorath (talk) 13:24, 6 November 2014 (UTC)

What is the force that holds the two or three glyphs of an atom together called? How many bonds does the i's dot in Ti have? Ann how dangerous is comic sans cheMStry? 06:52, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

The letter i can only form one bond, as the other side is bonded with its dot. This is pretty basic chemestry!Maplestrip (talk) 08:20, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
Ok. Let's look at something advanced. Fe. Os. Uut. -- Hkmaly (talk) 12:20, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
Sorry, but you mean Nh.
Ah, binary atoms. Probably too advanced for this discussion. Redbelly98 (talk) 13:03, 21 July 2018 (UTC)

Presumably hydrocarbon chains are still supported, albeit with hydrogens forming the backbone in a zip-like arrangement. You'd need phosphorous on the end, with a sans serif valence of 1. SleekWeasel (talk) 08:09, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

I believe he is making fun of incompetent chemistry students. I've seen some draw CH4 as C-H-H-H-H, i.e. according to some random and weird rules that have nothing to do with chemistry. - This comic proposes an equally nonsensical new paradigm. - Aeneas, 3rd November 2014, 10:01 CET

The crystalline structure is not like real-life crystalline carbon (neither diamond nor graphite). I removed that but someone should add a bit about it. 11:48, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

Old English Krypton is particularly hazardous and may explode on contact. Dark matter is composed entirely of cursive script elements. DivePeak (talk) 12:01, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

"Mydrane" is a trade mark for a company that markets miscellaneous medical supplies. "Hydrane" is a process for coal gasification by hydrogenation, producing ideally mostly light hydrocarbon gases (mostly methane) and a minimum of liquid products. Not clear whether either is relevant here.Taibhse (talk) 12:29, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

Hydrane is probally relevant. The real Mydrane almost certainly isn't. However, two other words come to mind; Mydriasis (the dialation of the pupil) and Myopia (near-sightedness), which could be what was happening to us Chemistry geeks when we first saw that. Also, the "compound" he claims to be Mydrane does somewhat resemble a pair of eyes or a pair of glasses. - 17:42, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

Amount vs. number. In the explanation: "the formation of bonds between elements often relies on the amount of valence electrons an element has." Should read, "the formation of bonds between elements often relies on the NUMBER of valence electrons an element has…"


It would be a very interesting exercise to invent a new set of symbols that WERE accurate using this system.Seebert (talk) 12:47, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

I don't know how relevant this is, but Hydrogen does exist in a metallic phase unde rhigh pressure and temperatures. It's liquid, though, and not crystalline. Also, C2H does also exist, but as a very unstable radical (basically an Acetylene Radical) which seems to be found in space. I have NO idea where Mydrane comes from. There are a lot of Hydrogencompounds ending with -ane (Borane, Silane, Methane), but no idea how this applies here. -- 14:21, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

Question: does N(itrogen) only have two bonds, or are those angles a different kind of bond (perhaps ionic vs covalent)? If so, tungsten (W) would be interesting, for a start... (In fact, going though the elements in my head, from the monoglyph elements it would be the most complex under this system. The diglyphs might give Meitnerium (Mt... but was that previously Une as a systematic triglyph?) or Thulium (Tm) some interesting qualities, depending on how the system actually works. Triglyphs are always intended to be replaced, so I think those are moot.

Wow, is this a serious question or are you just trolling for conspiracy nuts? Of course the conspiracy theorists will tell you that before the invention of printing all the angles were curves, and they were compressed to tight angles to make blocks of movable type smaller and cheaper. Reputable experimental chemists, however, have reported that the bonds between two tungstens is stronger than between two uraniums and we can attribute the difference to the angles. It is fairly evident that right angles (e.g. at the upper left corners of "F" and "P") are essentially inert, and it appears that bond strength increases as the angle becomes more acute. Opposing angles (e.g. "K") seem to Kancel each other out. This is still a very contentious topic!DivePeak (talk) 05:09, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

As for symbols that are accurate, there are a number of systems. Hydrogen is represented on the "gold discs" on the Voyager spacecraft (as a starting key to easily decode other information on there) but without a complete overhaul of a system, I'd imagine no advanced civilisation will have started out with "let's show it how it actually works" (accurately, and without elements such as phlogiston creeping in!) before giving arbitrary names. Electron-orbital diagrams probably work well, though, for some things. And something that reveals the (for example) pi-bonds works better in combinatory diagrams. I think. It's been a while since I did any serious chemistry. 14:41, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

Oxygen has 6 valence electrons, not two. It forms two bonds because it's got room for two more. 16:49, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

Could Mydrane be My Dr -ane where -ane is the common ending for an alkane. My Dr = CCH...which could be Cape Code Healthcare? ~~rbnm

I wonder how many bonds the capital letter "I" would have-- two or four? Seeing as how Randall writes it in this comic, I'm guessing two. Also, would it be possible for carbon to bond with itself ad infinitum in a chain which looks like the teeth on a zipper ("C", upside-down "C", and so on)? 00:29, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

Yes, Carbon can form very long chains, and also carbon rings (but only with an even number of carbon atoms).DivePeak (talk) 04:23, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
Assuming that you're talking Comic Universe, I don't see why it can't be an odd number of carbons in a ring. Even if we're forced to bend round a ...∩U∩U... sort of thing (only end-connected, between characters, not end-snuggled, IYSWIM) you can have one that bends round outside of the plane of the page similar to a mobius strip and could still 'zipper' in a closed circuit with an odd number.
IRL, of course, there's Cyclopentane and Cyclopropane (3- and 5-carbon rings), among others, and Cycloundecane (11-carbon saturated ring, with an irregular and aperiodic "wiggle" around the circuit) shows one way that the Fictional Cyclocarbon could (just with a greater angle of bond between successive carbons, and no hydrogens involved) work with odd numbers. 07:56, 5 November 2014 (UTC)
My bad - I thought the comic universe was only two dimensional and it would have to be an even number. I need to upgrade my screen! DivePeak (talk) 02:51, 6 November 2014 (UTC)

Me is not the designation of two carbon chains. Methane is CH4.

Any idea why the title text says "usually" more reactive? Do we have examples of where serifs could be less reactive than their sans serif counterparts? 11:51, 9 November 2014 (UTC)

Usually: For example, serif oxygen and sans-serif oxygen are both inert. 23:45, 9 November 2014 (UTC)

Now if someone comes up with a species with the formula C2H, we know what to call it. Maybe the ion C-≡CH? Promethean (talk)