Friday, October 8, 2010

What is a good nickname for an experienced chemist?

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(Note: I've never been)
One of my favorite San Diego memories is sitting in a doctor's office and listening to a younger and an older Marine chit-chat. When the younger Marine asked about the past of the older one, the older one chuckled and said "I'm just an old, salty gunny."

Is there a nickname for older, very experienced chemists? You know the one: the man or woman who's spent a lifetime at the bench, the one who's seen projects and fads come and go, the one who knows where everything in the lab is (and isn't), and the one who always seems to know the right reagent to try when everything else doesn't work.

I can't really think of any off the top of my head. I'm sure there are lots of potential terms, but none that I can think of. Certainly, there are old sailor insults that could be converted: "I've [urinated] more hexanes than you've ever used" or whatever. But I can't think of a term.

Readers, what say you?


  1. Are there ACTUALLY old timer chemists left in industry? I thought all the dinosaurs were eliminated in the recent pogroms.

  2. In academic settings I've heard "Elder Statesmen" and "Grand Dame" used to describe long-established chemistry professors.


  3. if you're working with a guy named "boom boom" you might want to reconsider you choice of lab.

  4. I worked with a synthetic chemistry dude who fulfilled all the criteria above, must have been in his late 40s but looked 60 (and like most of it was spent before the mast while rounding the Horn). He smoked more packs a day than the number of words he uttered. He was covered allways with few days-old greying stubby beard, sometimes grinning in most disquieting way for reasons only known to him. He was the oly same one in the endless parade of corporate reorganizations and mergers.
    He once mentioned that his biggest contribution to science was a discovery of a terpene epoxide which smelled exactly like a freshly-pooped horse manure - he synthesized it while working for a fragrance and flavor company. (The company absolutely loved it and gave him an award - it is now used for flavoring pipe tobacco). And his is last name was a name of a famous pirate. But we called him Brian.

  5. Hmmm....I've heard people referred to as "Master", "Best", "Prof", and "Done it All"

  6. George Marquardt (of fentanyl infamy) referred to old-time synthetic Organic chemists as "potboilers"

  7. At a previous company, we called them Crusty Old Veterans. The name was carried like a badge of honor.

  8. Lab Rats - unless they work in Water Treatment - then they are Sewer Rats


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