Chemistry Weddings (and Funerals?)

July 11th, 2012

It is summertime, which means we are smack dab in the middle of wedding season.

A couple of weeks ago, one of the grad students in our lab got married and did a nice job of incorporating some chemistry into the mix. Each table was named after one of the couple’s favorite molecules, and it was no coincidence that the delegation from our lab was seated at the alcohol dehydrogenase table:

A couple of years ago, another grad student from our lab and his wife had element themed tables (with test tubes as seat markers) at their reception:

Pretty cool — and I love the glassware. Congrats to M & A and A & C for getting hitched and representin’ chemistry at the same time. (Also, many thanks to the fabulous GK for the photos.)

These chemical wedding ideas are awesome, but I generally spend more time planning my dream funeral. Since chemistry is a big part of my life, I’d like to make sure it is also a part of the celebration of my death. In ancient Egypt, people were buried with items thought necessary or useful in the afterlife. These included everyday items like food, utensils, and furniture. In this vein, I would like to be buried with a few pieces of lab equipment when I kick the bucket.

First off, I’ll need some PPE. I’ll stick with with the traditional dress pants, shirt, and tie (yellow, please), but I’d like a Nomex lab coat in lieu of a sports jacket. Next, I want a pristine 7″ NMR tube with a purple cap placed in my top left pocket. In one of my trouser pockets, I’d like a set of 24/40-to-vial adapters. Nothing beats ending a synthesis by rotavapping your product directly in its final container.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked the blog’s Facebook fans and Twitter followers what they’d like to be buried with. Here are some of the responses:

Roger — A 1 GHz NMR (ok, Mr. Greedy)
Bethany — An NMR tube cleaner (I’ve never had one)
Adan — A Schlenk tube (nice)
Michael — A J-Young NMR tube (very nice)
Benny — A Dean-Stark apparatus
Jess and William — Soxhlet extractor (fun to watch for eternity)
Cari — A fritted funnel with vacuum adapter (man, there is nothing like having a clean one)
Wendy — A fleaker (saucy!)
Derek — Kipp’s apparatus (old school ballin’)
Ann — A Sharpie
Neil — Mortar & pestle, or possibly, a blowtorch (hardcore)
Barney — One of those 10 mL green pipette pumps
Rory — A swivel frit
Peter — Suba seal septum (red or white?)
Freda — A “cute” bubbler
Peter T. — A column…with “a blocked sinter and dodgy tap”
Lab Monkey — “The sole red Keck clip from our dept labs. The thought that someone will finally have to order more warms my cockles”

The most incisive comment made during this exercise came from Shawn, who noted “this seems like a formula to inspire grave robbing by grad students from underfunded labs.”

Maybe, but if you seal me in my coffin with a few jugs of expired THF, I don’t think many people will want to come a knockin’ with shovels.

22 Responses to “Chemistry Weddings (and Funerals?)”

  1. Paul Says:

    Just got the full list of table names from the newlywed bride:

    Nitrogenase, hemocyanin, cobalamin, oxytocin, crocin, adrenaline, trinitrotoluene, myristicin, capsaicin, hemoglobin, alcohol dehydrogenase, tetrodotoxin, Kevlar, chlorophyll, sinigrin, adenosine triphosphate, caffeine, morphine, dopamine, penicillin, retinal, testosterone + estrogen, indigo.

    Every table had its own placard with the structure of the molecule and a blurb about it.

    Great stuff!

  2. Neil Says:

    My then-soon-to-be wife & I spent about 15 mins laughing hysterically at the thought of having space groups for our table names and how it would confuse the hell out of all but 5 of our guests. The thought of it still makes me smile!

  3. Renée Webster (@reneewebs) Says:

    My hubby and I are both chemists too (well he is a solid state chemist, not a *real* chemist, but anyway). We had a few chemistry things at our wedding. He had element cufflinks (from, our tables were named after elements and we had beaker mugs as our toasting glasses. pHun times!

  4. qvxb Says:

    Paul, does that Nomex lab coat mean you think you’ll be going to a place with flames?

    For burial goods I would like to say Joan Collins (like in the film Land of the Pharoahs) but I won’t because that would be unprofessional.

  5. Agman Says:

    I think mine will be those cute tiny-as-rice stirbar. I use to always lose those because they are too small. Otherwise, they were stolen by my colleagues who were to lazy to go buy them in the stockroom. So it’ll be nice to keep one for eternity.

  6. coupled Says:

    We did the same thing as the Co picture above for our wedding. The seating char outside the hall was titled “The periodic TABLES of elements”

  7. J.S. Boc Says:

    I would like to be buried with my 30 mL sep funnel (perfect for late-in-synthesis work-ups) and, in lieu of pictures from my life on easels next to my coffin, I’d want ORTEPs of the various crystal structures I’ve obtained over the years.

  8. Amusing News Aliquots | Newscripts Says:

    […] Paul considers chemistry-themed weddings and funerals. [ChemBark] […]

  9. Curious Wavefunction Says:

    Since I would prefer to be cremated, just douse me with whatever latest low flash point material is lying around. Preferably after I am dead please.

  10. eugene Says:

    I want to be mummified and my tissues stuffed with kilograms of precious third row transition metal salts that I used in research (albeit in much lower amounts in life). All my teeth should be replaced with a precious metal like gold and I want the outside coated in rhodium. After all that, with my body on display during the funeral, fill the coffin with mercury that will be part of my curse to grave robbers as it slowly reacts with whatever organics are left or makes amalgams of all the metals, and that should be good.

  11. Chemjobber Says:

    Wavefunction: Why cremate when you can Resomate?

    Resomation (a neologism meant to suggest rebirth) was first proposed for use in Europe as a method of disposing of cows infected by bovine spongiform encephalopathy. The corpse is placed in a pressurized chamber. The vessel is then filled with water and potassium hydroxide, creating a highly alkaline solution, and heated to 330 degrees. After about three hours, all that’s left are a soft, white calcium phosphate from bone and teeth and a light brown primordial soup of amino acids and peptides. Bodies buried underground decompose in the same way, albeit over many years and aided by microorganisms.

    Unlike cremation, resomation doesn’t vaporize the toxic mercury of dental fillings and doesn’t char joint implants, leaving them clean, shiny and potentially recyclable. The bone and tooth material can be ground into a fine ash, as with traditional cremains. The brown liquid, because it’s sterile, can go down the drain. “There’s no genetic material in it at all; it’s just basic organic materials,” Sullivan assures. “You might get some people who say they want the fluid as well, but at the end of the day, it’s best to send it to the water treatment plant so it ends up back on the land, as nature intended it to.”

  12. Paul Says:

    >> Paul, does that Nomex lab coat mean you think you’ll be going to a place with flames?

    @qvxb: You win the thread.

    And here are some related comments from Twitter that deserve attention:

    @stuartcantrill and his chemical bride had a hexagonal wedding cake featuring Borromean ring decorations, too.

    @sciencebase made a list of wedding anniversary gifts for chemists

  13. Curious Wavefunction Says:

    CJ: Good grief. That sounds like something the Morlocks would do to the Eloi.

  14. Steve Says:

    Anyone else wear their periodic table tie to chemistry weddings?

  15. yoyomama Says:

    I would like to be buried with the Strem “tetrakis” recipe that keeps it from turning orange.

  16. Rick Bryan Says:

    Christian Rosenkreutz had a chemical wedding (chymical, anyway) way back in 1616. People are still talking about it.

  17. souls_at_zeo Says:

    Agreed on the vial adaptor.. possibly the most sought after item in my lab, and typically broken as soon as we finally get our hands on a brand new one.

  18. Doctor Kurt Says:

    My then-fiancee’s parents emigrated from China in 1948; I’m half German and half Michigander. We met in grad school, where she pursued a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry while I was doing molecular spectroscopy and working on my degree in P. Chem.

    Naturally, we billed our wedding as an International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.

    The wedding cake approximated 1,3,5-triphenylbenzene – i.e. a hexagonal cake in the center with three hexagonal “satellite” cakes, however without the out-of-plane twist seen in the parent molecule.

    And both of us being members of Alpha Chi Sigma (is there anyone else out there whose wife is also his brother?) the cake was decorated with alchemical symbols. The department glassblower made the ornament for the top of the cake – a sphere of yellow glass suspended in a pyrex sphere, a 3-D representation of the symbol for gold.

  19. calchemist Says:

    Great post! My wife and I also had a chemistry themed wedding in 2008: we named our tables after elements as well (and we called the markers “periodic table tents”). Based on my last name, the head table was Co. Paul, can you guess who I am? =) We also had the dept. glassblower make giant test tubes for the pew decorations in Mem Church. Would be happy to pass photos along if you want. Saw this story in C&EN recently– a great day for chemistry bonds!

  20. Paul Says:

    @calchemist: Are your initials D.C.?

    I (and other readers, I bet) would love to see the decorations!

  21. wolfie Says:

    I mean, look, if you or Eugene could make and polymerize C4H4S2N2 in lieu of myself, I’d be liberated of a great charge. Couldn’t you, or why can you not ? Should I eventually have to assume that this molecule is my fate ?

  22. Nerdy Nuptials | Newscripts Says:

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