Newscripts | December 4, 2006 Issue - Vol. 84 Issue 49 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 84 Issue 49 | p. 112 | Newscripts
Issue Date: December 4, 2006

Snake Support, Chemists In Congress, Chemistry Puzzles

Department: Newscripts | Collection: Critter Chemistry

Snake Support

Two-headed snake symbolizes nature's resources.
Credit: World Aquarium
Two-headed snake symbolizes nature's resources.
Credit: World Aquarium

For presumably virtuous reasons, the Florida biopharmaceutical company Nutra Pharma has adopted a TWO-HEADED ALBINO RAT SNAKE, which resides at the World Aquarium in St. Louis.

According to the company, the snake, which has a colored history and goes by the name "We," is a perfect mascot because Nutra Pharma is developing several drugs based on modified cobra venom and toxin. The financial support for the two-headed snake will educate people on species conservation. "It is important to educate the public about snakes and that they should not be feared," says Nutra Pharma Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rik J. Deitsch.

Although Nutra Pharma did not report details of its deal with the aquarium, news reports indicate that the sponsorship is a six-month agreement for $15,000. The funds are to be used to support conservation and other programs at the aquarium.

We has quite the background. The aquarium paid $15,000 for the snake back in 1999 knowing that most two-headed snakes don't survive, but We has thrived. In 2004, a disgruntled employee stole the snake, which was later found in the man's garage. Then, earlier this year, the aquarium tried unsuccessfully to sell the snake on eBay, asking $150,000.

Chemists In Congress

The U.S. has another CHEMIST ON CAPITOL HILL. Newly elected congresswoman Nancy Boyda (D-Kan.) is the second member of the House of Representatives with a chemistry degree. According to Boyda's online biography, she graduated in 1977 from William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., where she received dual degrees in chemistry and teaching.

Apparently, her first job was doing some kind of analytical chemistry work for the Environmental Protection Agency. She also did field inspections for the agency.

She soon turned to the private sector, however, and began a series of management positions for local pharmaceutical companies. She finally turned to teaching and was running a seventh-grade chemistry class when she decided to begin her first political campaign in 2004. Although she lost that race to incumbent Rep. Jim Ryun (R-Kan.), she did not return to the classroom or the boardroom. She stayed in politics, this time surprising Ryun with an effective and successful House campaign.

Boyda joins Rep. John W. Olver (D-Mass.), who received his Ph.D. in chemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was a chemistry professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, before being elected to state office.

Chemistry Puzzles

Elemental symbols solve puzzle.
Credit: Take a number:
Elemental symbols solve puzzle.
Credit: Take a number:

If the sudoku number puzzles no longer hold your attention the way they once did, perhaps your interest could be raised by trying a puzzle that substitutes the symbols for the CHEMICAL ELEMENTS instead of numbers 1-9.

These puzzles have the same 9 × 9 square grid used by the standard sudoku, but you have to arrange nine chemical symbols in the grid and use each one only once in the horizontal and vertical rows. The symbols don't have to create any compounds; they are simply a substitution to give the puzzle a chemical flavor and perhaps present more of a challenge because you have to think in terms of chemicals instead of numbers.

Sometimes referred to as su-chem-du, these puzzles have gained some popularity, and the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) has published two books of the chemistry-based puzzles ( that are said to run from moderately easy to fiendishly challenging. And if the element puzzles are not your cup of tea, RSC also has a book of chemistry crosswords, where the clues and answers are chemistry related. Just in time for the holidays.


This week's column was written by David Hanson. Please send comments and suggestions to

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