Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Picky, picky

In this week's C&EN, a funny letter:
I carefully read all the articles on shrinking mass spectrometers and think they were very good and well presented. 
However, what ruined it for me was the announcement for the cover story (C&EN, May 28, page 36) in the table of contents. Irregardless [sic] of what the confused minds of the C&EN production staff may think, there ain’t [sic] no such thing as mass spectroscopy. As you well know, spectroscopy involves the study of the absorption or transmission of energy associated with the electromagnetic spectrum. There is no such thing associated with mass spectrometry. All spectroscopies are spectrometries, but all spectrometries are not spectroscopies. 
The reason I make an issue of this is that I feel it is important to use good communication in science and correct terms. This is why you would never see a scientific peer-reviewed article with “ain’t” or “irregardless” in it. 
O. David Sparkman
Antioch, Calif. 
Editor’s note: Brackets in original.
Nothing gets the mass spec types riled up like calling them spectroscopists.  


  1. My intermediate organic chemistry class in undergrad also received this same lecture by the professor, stating something like "you will be laughed out of the room if you mention 'mass spectroscopy' anywhere on your resume".

  2. I remember some of my undergrad textbooks were picky about IUPAC names to a degree no one should be in real life - dichloromethane instead of methylene chloride, phosphonic acid instead of phosphoric acid, methanal instead of formaldehyde, etc.

  3. Ah, one of the corrections I had to make in my thesis. Never made the same mistake again.



looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20