In a recent post I said – rather crudely – that there was no absolute way of understanding chemical names. I have been (rightly) taken to task for imprecision:
September 25th, 2007 at 5:04 am e I’m not sure what you mean by the comment “Because there is no absolute way of assigning names to structures.” Systematic naming is exactly that….IUPAC Naming, CAS Naming. Well defined rules. Now, are they exhaustive across all forms of chemistry..surely not…inorganics, organometallics, polymers while challenging do have nomenclature standards too while some believe they don’t. Of course chemical structure classes change…there were no rules of fullerenes before they were synthesized. But, in general there IS an absolute way of assigning the names to structures. Maybe I misinterpreted your
PMR: This is true, in principle for certain classes of compounds (mainly organic). BTW many chemical (informatics) folk are arrogant enough to assume that there is nothing in the world except organic chemistry. There are many chemicals which aren’t organic. The Wikipedians have a lot of problems in deciding how to assign a name to something because they use names as both descriptions and addresses. Naming is hard. Very hard. It’s been said that there are only two hard problems in computer science and naming is one of them. Here are some and they can’t be represented by a formal name other than lookup.
calcite / aragoniteBakelite
and, of course there are trivial names, such as Diazonamide A. Why use that rather than the systematic name? Because when it was first discover they didn’t know what it was. It seems they still don’t. Or at least some people don’t. The name relates not to a connection table but to a sample with associated properties such as composition, melting point, NMR, etc. which serve to identify, but not always elucidate.
Trivial names are convenient. Therefore we need an Open (not just free) set of chemical names.
I’ve just remembered. We’ve got several: Pubchem, Wikipedia, ChEBI. Set up respectively by biologists, volunteers, biologists. For the service of chemists. They might even get interested in helping them grow.