WWWTP? – Lab Decor Edition

October 19th, 2011

Today’s edition of What’s Wrong with this Picture? was sent in by an astute reader from Atlanta:

I’ve been a reader for a while, and when I saw these doors and signs on all of the chemistry labs at the new Undergraduate Learning Commons at Georgia Tech today, I immediately thought of your blog.


Incidentally, the missing “T” in the first picture is not the answer (the theft of “T”s from campus signs is a tradition at Georgia Tech). The problem, of course, is the myriad of Texas carbons in these Lewis structures. While I love the H2C= groups bonded directly to the benzene rings, what really gets me going are the triple bonds at the bridgeheads of the fused ring systems. Brilliant.

I think I’ll have to retire the WWWTP genre, because I can’t think of a worse place to post fakakta Lewis structures than the entrance of an orgo lab designed to teach undergrads to learn chemistry. This is the Sgt. Pepper’s of chemistry mistakes. Game over.

27 Responses to “WWWTP? – Lab Decor Edition”

  1. kimmen Says:

    I agree- time to retire it on this note. And I thought my general impression that chemistry students are less educated was just me getting to be an old fogy.

  2. George P. Burdell Says:

    YEAH!!! That’s my Undergrad!!!

    FWIW…the Clough Commons is a general building that now house undergrad general labs. The Actual Chemistry Department is about 5 blocks away.
    I used the old Chem building that looks like a periodic table.

    But you know our fight song says absolutely nothing about chemistry, just whiskey and engineers.

  3. AdriaticSea Says:

    Argh, way to make my degree feel like its worth a lot less GT.

  4. Curious Wavefunction Says:

    That’s why Emory chemistry is better (smirk).

  5. GT ChBE '01 Says:

    Well that’s disappointing. Somebody tell Liotta.

  6. JB Says:

    First week of Organic chem class — have a “find the errors” competition. Extra points for everyone who can draw the structures correctly!

  7. CR Says:

    Why would Liotta care?

  8. techie Says:

    This is what you get when a school can’t afford to hire their own grads. 😛 *facepalm*

  9. DingdongMekadangdang Says:



  10. zinkeimer Says:

    das ist künstlerische freiheit

  11. DrBodwin Says:

    Maybe those are supposed to be transition states to emphasize the high energy (and relative instability?) of the Chemistry Department at Georgia Tech. With a few of those bonds changed to dotted lines, it would… OK, no, I tried to make it work, but it’s just not happening. Other than the faulty decorating, it looks like a nice facility…

  12. Pig Farmer Says:

    I had to look up “Texas Carbon” and “fakakta” (enough with the yiddish already!).
    Incidentally, can anyone enlighten me as to the origin of the term “Texas Carbon?” Urban dictionary says:
    “Created from a bathroom stall wall in the University of Michigan Chem Building” which doesn’t really tell me much.
    Artistic freedom my arse! Just very shoddy workmanship indeed. How sad, and how indicative of the low esteem in which our noble profession is held these days.O tempora o mores!

  13. Hap Says:

    Texas carbons have been explained as “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” – thus Texas carbons can’t have only four bonds and they have to have more (and five is the most common version of “more”). Where it actually came from or why, though, I have no idea.

    I think Excimer uses(d) “Canadian carbons” for a carbon with six bonds.

  14. Dan_And Says:

    Anybody knows if the Georgia Tech has really paid for that stuff ?

  15. phyto Says:

    Texas is known as the lone star state. Star = five points or in the case of a Texas carbon five bonds.

  16. wolfie Says:

    arghhh! such a mess for NOTHING !

    only nothingness is better

  17. A.J. Luxton Says:

    Texas carbons. That’s a good one, hadn’t heard it before. I call this error “the Chuck Norris carbon” after a joke from the Fake IUPAC Gold Book – “Chuck Norris can put five bonds on carbon.” Snerk.

  18. excimer Says:

    It’s a… conversation piece.

  19. Malkavian Says:

    About the Texas Carbon, I just checked, and apparently my hypervalecy teacher didn’t lie:
    just type Carbon, Texas in Google Maps, and you’ll see a very nice crossroads with 5 main roads. Works better if you use the satellite view…Google maps actually points right to it!
    (roads are the 2 parts of Coke street, the 2 parts of Main street, and Asphalt avenue)…
    Sadly the village of Carbon in alberta doesn’t have a 6 roads crossroads…
    I like the Chuck Norris Carbon better though!

  20. yonemoto Says:

    I always called carbons with six bonds “alaska carbons” because, Alaska is indeed bigger than texas.

  21. wolfie Says:

    I know a professor from Georgia Tech, who, when she was young, loved S. Pepper…

    No photo of her’s allowed here, until she has tenure

  22. qvxb Says:

    I think zinkheimer has the correct explanation. In our building, a municipal government environmental lab, no decoration is permitted on the glass of lab doors so that people passing by the labs can easily see if someone is in trouble inside. All lab door locks use the same key.

  23. nick012000 Says:

    Obviously these were designed by Art Majors.

  24. Gridlock Says:

    Indeed. Art majors designed that “chemical art” and whom cannot appreciate simple hexagonal carbon bonds. Unless they did know chemistry and were just deliberately being jackasses in a futile attempt to “shock” their audience for recognition purposes.

  25. WWWTP? – MORE University Decorations | ChemBark Says:

    […] the new undergraduate labs at Georgia Tech? It seems interior decoration with nonsensical chemical structures is really catching […]

  26. Rhasta Says:

    The theft of “T’s” from signs on campus is -not- a tradition. The theft of -the- “T” from Tech Tower is the tradition. The theft of other “T’s” is a vandalism based perversion due to the fact that it has been made impossible through security to steal the one on Tech Tower. The fact that this is now being spread as the tradition has cost tons in replacement “T’s” (that’s not helping the ever growing tuition hikes, but it also makes our beautiful campus look so unattractive as far as signage goes.

    This needs to stop being promoted for everyone’s sake. Please spread the word.

    From a recent grad and current staff member.

  27. @Rhasta Says:

    If I were a staff member myself at this school, I would be less worried about the vandalism of “T”s around campus, and more concerned with the state of education if these graphics are depicted throughout an entire chemistry building. It’s pretty embarrassing.

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