In Celebration of Chemistry in Sports. Introducing Olympicene.

01 Aug

Unless you have no interest in sports, or have your head under a stone, you will be aware of the fact that the next Olympics will be held in London in 2012. Peter Scott (one of the editors of ChemSpider SyntheticPages) and I were recently discussing how much of a role chemistry plays now in modern sports. I’m a runner, cyclist, swimmer and overall sporting type of guy and depend on wicking materials to keep me cool, nutritional support to get me through my 100-150 mile bike rides in a day, glide stick to “stop me chafing” (ow!) and graphite grease to silence the rattling chain on my bike. In fact it doesn’t matter what sport I am doing it is easy to notice the influence that chemistry has on my improved performance at my tender age of, ahem, just over 40 (and holding, for a while now).

I was reminiscing with Peter that Sir Graham Richards and I were chatting about pyrenes about a year ago and we lamented on how Benzo[CD]pyrene, shown here, looks just like the Olympic rings. There is another rather well known “Olympic molecule” of course, already captured on Wikipedia and named Olympiadane. It looks rather complex to synthesize and personally I think the benzopyrene looks a lot more like the Olympic rings so I attached the synonym Olympicene to it! In fact, if you search ChemSpider using the name Olympicene you will find it.

In a recent discussion about our online crowdsourced database of syntheses, ChemSpider SyntheticPages,(and not distracted at all by the conversation about the Olympics going to the UK next year!!!)  I mentioned again to Peter the molecule Olympicene and he searched ChemSpider to find it. We agreed that it would be fun to know how easy it would be too synthesize it and if it was done it would be a good synthesis to add to ChemSpider SyntheticPages. That was enough to trigger Peter into action and chat with one of his colleagues to see if he can make it.

And so it starts…the trials and tribulations of how to synthesize the chemical Olympicene will be captured on ChemSpider SyntheticPages step by step. We’re not sure how complex a synthesis it will be..time will tell. It will be great to add the analytical data to ChemSpider too as it gets generated..including all the intermediate reaction steps and associated data. ChemSpider and CSSP were designed to support projects like this so it will be a fun story to watch it work through.

If YOU have any thoughts about good synthetic approaches for what seems like a simple molecule post them on this blog. Actually, why not try synthesizing yourself and add your syntheses to SyntheticPages!? Every contribution is issued a DOI for your publication list!

It might be ideal to get a  number of synthetic approaches posted on ChemSpider SyntheticPages and see which one is the best! Watch this space. Also, I’ve set up a Twitter account to capture the progress at @Olympicene. Enjoy!


About tony

Founder of ChemZoo Inc., the host of ChemSpider ( ChemSpider is an open access online database of chemical structures and property transaction based services to enable chemists around the world to data mine chemistry databases. The Royal Society of Chemistry acquired ChemSpider in May 2009. Presently working as a consortium member of the OpenPHACTS IMI project ( This focuses on how drug discovery can utilize semantic technologies to improve decision making and brings together 22 European team members to develop an infrastructure to link together public and private data for the drug discovery community. I am also involved with the PharmaSea FP7 project ( trying to identify new classes of marine natural products with potential pharmacological activity. I am also one of the hosts for three wikis for Science: ScientistsDB, SciMobileApps and SciDBs. Over the past decade I held many responsibilities including the direction of the development of scientific software applications for spectroscopy and general chemistry, directing marketing efforts, sales and business development collaborations for the company. Eight years experience of analytical laboratory leadership and management. Experienced in experimental techniques, implementation of new NMR technologies, walk-up facility management, research and development, manufacturing support and teaching. Ability to provide situation analysis, creative solutions and establish good working relationships. Prolific author with over a 150 peer-reviewed scientific publications, 3 patents and over 300 public presentations. Specialties Leadership in the domain of free access Chemistry, Product and project management, Organizational and Leadership development, Competitive analysis and Business Development, Entrepreneurial.

Posted by on August 1, 2011 in Uncategorized


7 Responses to In Celebration of Chemistry in Sports. Introducing Olympicene.

  1. Peter Scott

    March 14, 2012 at 7:30 am

    The Warwick have made unexpected discoveries along the way, but a “traditional” route seems to be working so far and they appear to be getting there (see above link). Great work by Anish Mistry and David Fox.

  2. Antony Williams

    May 31, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    The tautomer drawn here was originally labeled as Olympicene. Later on microscopy imaging detected a symmetric tautomer and we labeled that as Olympicene for the enormous press coverage,,,


    June 20, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Great work by Anish Mistry and David Fox


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