15 July, 2012


I've learned how to draw the Olimpic rings. Blue yellow black green red. It's such a simple design famously described by Pierre De Coubertin : link
 The Olympic flag ... has a white background, with five interlaced rings in the centre: blue, yellow, black, green and red ... This design is symbolic ; it represents the five inhabited continents of the world, united by Olympism, while the six colors are those that appear on all the national flags of the world at the present time.

Chemists have been inspired by the design, notably Fraser Stoddart, Nobel Prize winner. Olympiadane was synthesised by Stoddart and colleagues in the early 90's and has the correct topology for the interlocking rings. Olympiadane is a catenane with five interlocking rings.
I had to laugh when I was reading Chemistry World this month. A molecule called olympicene with five fused rings had been in the news. A pretty picture of this molecule was made using noncontact atomic force microscopy. To be fair it's a stunning image, showing what can be achieved in terms of visualisation these days. Anyway, Stoddart and Amabilino sent a letter in to Chemistry World basically saying, "Oi, what the hell? That's not Olimpics, this is Olimpics, and we did it 15years ago!"

...we would like to point out to the readers of CW that this molecule has nothing to do with the Olympic symbol. Topologically, it is a completely different animal.
In 1994, we published the first report of the synthesis of five interlocking rings in a linear arrangement, the molecular equivalent of the Olympic rings. The molecule was named olympiadane and the preparation was also symbolic at the time, proving the preparation of large and complex structures using the tenets of molecular recognition and self assembly.
In advertising, timing is everything, and in research too! 

Oooooh! Burn! :-)

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