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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Monday's Molecule #194

Last week's molecule was N-(2-aminoethyl)glycine, a molecule that has been used to build artificial DNA molecules. The winner was Michael Rasmussen [Monday's Molecule #193].

This week's molecule is a real pisser. You'll have to give the complete, unambiguous, formal name AND explain why we don't make it.

Post your answer as a comment. I'll hold off releasing any comments for 24 hours. The first one with the correct answer wins. I will only post mostly correct answers to avoid embarrassment. The winner will be treated to a free lunch.

There could be two winners. If the first correct answer isn't from an undergraduate student then I'll select a second winner from those undergraduates who post the correct answer. You will need to identify yourself as an undergraduate in order to win. (Put "undergraduate" at the bottom of your comment.)

Some past winners are from distant lands so their chances of taking up my offer of a free lunch are slim. (That's why I can afford to do this!)

In order to win you must post your correct name. Anonymous and pseudoanonymous commenters can't win the free lunch.

Winners will have to contact me by email to arrange a lunch date. Please try and beat the regular winners. Most of them live far away and I'll never get to take them to lunch. This makes me sad.

Comments are now open.

UPDATE: The molecule is allantoin, the main excreted breakdown product of uric acid in mammals. Most other animals can degrade allantoin to urea or even CO2 + NH3. This week's winners are Paul Clapham and Jacob Troth. They should contact me by email.

Nov. 2009: Jason Oakley, Alex Ling
Oct. 17: Bill Chaney, Roger Fan
Oct. 24: DK
Oct. 31: Joseph C. Somody
Nov. 7: Jason Oakley
Nov. 15: Thomas Ferraro, Vipulan Vigneswaran
Nov. 21: Vipulan Vigneswaran (honorary mention to Raul A. Félix de Sousa)
Nov. 28: Philip Rodger
Dec. 5: 凌嘉誠 (Alex Ling)
Dec. 12: Bill Chaney
Dec. 19: Joseph C. Somody
Jan. 9: Dima Klenchin
Jan. 23: David Schuller
Jan. 30: Peter Monaghan
Feb. 7: Thomas Ferraro, Charles Motraghi
Feb. 13: Joseph C. Somody
March 5: Albi Celaj
March 12: Bill Chaney, Raul A. Félix de Sousa
March 19: no winner
March 26: John Runnels, Raul A. Félix de Sousa
April 2: Sean Ridout
April 9: no winner
April 16: Raul A. Félix de Sousa
April 23: Dima Klenchin, Deena Allan
April 30: Sean Ridout
May 7: Matt McFarlane
May 14: no winner
May 21: no winner
May 29: Mike Hamilton, Dmitri Tchigvintsev
June 4: Bill Chaney, Matt McFarlane
June 18: Raul A. Félix de Sousa
June 25: Raul A. Félix de Sousa
July 2: Raul A. Félix de Sousa
July 16: Sean Ridout, William Grecia
July 23: Raul A. Félix de Sousa
July 30: Bill Chaney and Raul A. Félix de Sousa
Aug. 7: Raul A. Félix de Sousa
Aug. 13: Matt McFarlane
Aug. 20: Stephen Spiro
Aug. 27: Raul A. Félix de Sousa
Sept. 3: Matt McFarlane
Sept. 10: Matt Talarico
Sept. 17: no winner
Sept. 24: Mikkel Rasmussen
Oct. 1: John Runnels
Oct. 8: Raúl Mancera
Oct. 15: Raul A. Félix de Sousa
Oct. 22: Mikkel Rasmussen
Nov. 12: Seth Kasowitz, Bill Gunn
Nov. 19: Michael Rasmussen
Dec. 4: Paul Clapham, Jacob Troth


  1. Using my mad high school chemistry skillz I figured out the chemical formula and then Googled it. Didn't take me long to come up with allantoin. IUPAC name is (2,5-Dioxo-4-imidazolidinyl) urea according to Wikipedia and we don't make it because we don't have a metabolic pathway which converts uric acid into it.

    Why we don't have such a metabolic pathway whereas other mammals do is beyond me. Could just be genetic drift I suppose.

    I'm no biochemist, I'm just fooling around really, but don't worry about embarrassing me.

  2. Allantoin, (2,5-Dioxo-4-imidazolidinyl) urea, used in nitrogen excretion in most mammals, excluding higher apes due to the lack of the metabolic pathway that converts uric acid to allantoin.

  3. It's Allantoin, IUPAC name (2,5-dioxoimidazolidin-4-yl)urea. I am really pissed off about this, because I and my fellow higher apes don't have the synthetic pathway to produce it like most mammals. We piss its' precursor uric acid instead.

  4. The molecule is allantoin or (2,5-Dioxo-4-imidazolidinyl)urea.
    It is a product of oxidation of uric acid. Humans do not have this metabolic pathway.

  5. Allantoin: We don't make it because in higher apes (including us of course!) the pathway needed to convert uric acid into allantoin isn't present.