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Unicode Consortium releases new science emoji

Nine new science-themed emoji will soon be available on a number of platforms and mobile devices

by Linda Wang
June 29, 2018

If you’ve been waiting anxiously to include goggle, test tube, or lab coat emoji in your online and social media messages, the wait is over. Nine new science-themed emoji are available—or will soon be available—on a number of online platforms and mobile devices.

The latest Unicode update, Unicode 11.0, includes the following science-themed emoji: lab coat, goggles, test tube, petri dish, DNA, microbe, compass, abacus, and fire extinguisher.

“It’s been really nice to see scientists embrace emoji in all kinds of ways to communicate what they do and to engage the public,” says Jennifer 8. Lee, a vice chair of the Unicode emoji subcommittee, which helps vet emoji proposals. “You see a lot of emoji used in academic and scientific papers. There’s an inner child in all of us, and that inner child loves emoji.”

Emoji are pictographs used in electronic communications to express specific thoughts or emotions. For 2018, a total of 157 new emoji have been added by the nonprofit Unicode Consortium, which coordinates the development of the Unicode standard.

Companies like Apple and Google have their own timelines for rolling out new emoji. The new science emoji are already available on Twitter, for example. The emoji’s look might different depending on the platform used.

Proposals for new emoji are discussed at Emojicon. During the 2016 gathering in San Francisco, a group in the science track, which included representatives from ACS, put forth a proposal to create science-related emoji. “It was a long process between introducing the proposal to the emoji arriving on keyboards,” says C&EN Product Manager Jessica Morrison, who helped write the proposal.

Lee notes that some of the science emoji that were proposed didn’t get accepted. These include a mole, an atom, a rock, a Geiger counter, and a molecule. The atom wasn’t accepted because there’s already a purple atom emoji, and the molecule idea was tabled because it would be challenging to choose which molecule to represent, Lee says.

But that doesn’t mean those emoji will never make it to keyboards. “If there was a surge in demand among scientists for this, I could see those making their way through,” Lee says.

Scientists who want to see their options expand even further can submit emoji proposals to Unicode. For more information, visit The next Emojicon convention will take place on July 14 in New York City.


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