How do chemists show that special someone they really care about them? As Valentine’s Day approaches, it’s good to know that medicinal chemist Nick Uhlig has put a lot of thought into the matter and has designed cards for the occasion with chemists and those who love them in mind.
His line of cards, now available through the online marketplace Redbubble, comes not a moment too soon. The Newscripts crowd has had it with cards filled with treacly sentiments and festooned with roses and those silly putti—the winged cherubs representing the Roman god of desire, Cupid. Now’s the time for something deliciously wicked.
One of Uhlig’s cards, for instance, describes a moment of desire. Illustrated on the card face are two molecules: The one on the left is a diene, and on the right is an alkene. Shown just moments before their inevitable coupling via the Diels-Alder reaction, the two molecules meant for one another are separated by only a heartbeat. “I’m diene to be with you,” reads the message on the card.
Another card describes a relationship that’s just meant to be. It shows the two interrelated peaks of a proton doublet plotted along a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrum.
At the top of the spectrum, the letter J marks off and represents the coupling constant between the two peaks. Spectroscopists might not so boldly insist on a cute heart drawing alongside the J to emphasize the heartfelt sympathy between the two peaks. But Uhlig draws it in with a glint in his eye and a lover’s suggestion: “Let’s couple.”
Uhlig designed the Valentine’s Day cards between finishing his Ph.D. at McGill University in organic chemistry in November and his start in January at biopharmaceutical maker Gilead Sciences’ Edmonton, Alberta, research and production site.
Asked whether success with the cards might lead to a similar line of T-shirts, Uhlig nixed the idea. “Greeting cards are ephemeral, and there’s no guilt in tossing them into the recycle bin,” he says. But “T-shirts last longer, and then the joke gets stale.
“I’m not going to quit my day job,” Uhlig assures Newscripts. “This is just for fun.”
Greeting card sentiments may be ephemeral, but the love that inspires them frequently is not. So why not help protect a soul mate from the skin-aging effects of the sun with the soon-to-be-available heart-shaped My UV Patch?
The brainchild of cosmetic firm L’Oréal’s technology incubator, the 6.5-cm2 peel-and-stick patch contains photosensitive dyes that factor in the user’s skin tone and changes colors when exposed to ultraviolet rays.
At only 50 µm thick—thinner than a strand of hair—the stretchable device also includes sensors and electronics to help calculate time-specific exposure details. Associated apps for iPhone and Android devices will pair with the patch, calculating users’ UV exposure over the course of several days.
Like a jealous lover, the app will point out times when a sun-kissed user is overexposed. L’Oréal suggests the patch may be available at little or no charge and is meant for informational purposes, not to sell its patented sunscreen formulations. But what’s to stop a lover from sharing a flask of UV-protective lotion with the patch wearer and calling it Love Potion Number Nine?