Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Doing chemistry in Japanese. Or, an exercise in perfecting a Japanese accent.

So my job is pretty awesome so far. It was touch and go for a while when my supervisor said stuff about "Zeolite membranes" and "Lithium ion batteries for hybrid electric vehicles". But he was just joshing with me (Saita-san, my supervisor, is pretty kick-ass. Plus he looks like a long lost Japanese member of the Beatles).

For anyone who knows anything about my fourth year design project (pretty much just my group I guess, and Dan and Mikhail. Holla!), my project here is eerily similar, should I choose to accept it (which I will). It makes me think.. how many companies are there working on magnetic nanoparticle-assisted protein detection/medical diagnostics technologies? Or am I just a really lucky guy?

Anyway, any job worth its salt begins with a long gruelling process of reading papers on background and what the group has done so far. Luckily, I've spent much of the last term wading through papers on magnetic nanoparticle synthesis, surface functionalization and separation. So I have time to waste writing up these blog entries in bulk.

Or so I thought, until the latest pile of papers to read on my desk are entirely in Japanese. "Whats up with this, Saita-dawg" I ask.

"This is the latest report on our progress. I have to go to Tokyo today, so you try to get a grip on the chemistry, this can serve as a hint. We'll talk about it tomorrow." responds Saita-slice.

I spent a few hours trying to go through this report, mostly saying katakana words aloud trying to figure out their meaning. Here are a few notable snippets that I'm quite proud of deciphering (with some help of chemical formulae, of course :P).

ビーズ (bi-zu) - literally "beads", japanese term for nanoparticles, apparently

ゼオライト (zeoraito) - zeolite

ポリマ (porima) - polymer

クリクケミスツリ (kurikukemisuturi) - Click chemistry. lol

エチニル(echiniru) - ethynyl group

アジド(ajido) - azide group

ツトブチルメタクリラート (tuto buchiru metakurirato) - tert-butyl methacrylate

スチランスルホンアトリウム (suchiransuruhonatoriumu) - styrene monosodium sulfonate

アセトニトリル (asetonitoriru) - acetonitrile

シリカ (shirika) - silica

マグヌトリト (magunutorito) - magnetite

アスコルビンーナトリウム (asukorubin-natoriumu) - sodium ascorbate

I especially love how elements are Japonified from their original LATIN versions (Sodium is Natoriumu). Score one for that dead language.


  1. Wow you're a winner! And to think your latin is helping you!

  2. kurikukemisuturi

    That reminded of the indian art of sex. thank god, I am not in Japan. I would still be giggling...behind bars.