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  1. #11
    non_e_giusto is offline Newbie
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    Re: CO2 or carbon dioxide

    I'm a chemist, not an English teacher. When reading a text out loud, I simply read what it says. If it says CO2 (officially, the 2 has to be in subscript!), I say "see oh two". If it says carbon dioxide, I say carbon dioxide.

    When I'm talking to my colleagues in the lab, the two words are completely interchangeable, and we generally use the shortest. So we say "water" and "ethanol" instead of H2O and C2H5OH because it's shorter (count the syllables), but we generally say CO2 instead of carbon dioxide, for the same reason.

  2. #12
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    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Re: CO2 or carbon dioxide

    I did a degree in chemistry a while back. We usually write ethanol as CH3CH2OH these days, if we must use a non-structural formula.

  3. #13
    non_e_giusto is offline Newbie
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    Re: CO2 or carbon dioxide

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    I did a degree in chemistry a while back. We usually write ethanol as CH3CH2OH these days, if we must use a non-structural formula.
    I wouldn't do that personally. It's extra work for nothing.

    The overall formula for ethanol is C2H6O, however, we often write C2H5OH, to distinguish it from CH3OCH3, which has the same overall formula. However, there is no need to write C2H5- as CH3CH2-, simply because there is no isomer for it. C2H5- can only mean one thing, so going through the trouble of writing it all out (even though it isn't technically wrong), makes little sense.

  4. #14
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    Re: CO2 or carbon dioxide

    Maybe it's a local thing. But chemistry is nowhere near as clear cut when you actually work with chemists in the lab. Why do we use the terms acetone and acetic acid, when UIPAC correctly gives us propanone and ethanoic acid? These terms date from a time when people weren't sure how many carbon atoms were in them: acetone (3), acetic acid (2). But university chemists are an education-oriented bunch here, so maybe they used the convention CH3CH2OH so us kids could correctly visualise the structural formula from this molecular formula.

  5. #15
    non_e_giusto is offline Newbie
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    Re: CO2 or carbon dioxide

    You make some good points. Where I'm at, chemists at the university aren't very education oriented at all (something I wish they would change). If that is the reasoning behind it, I'd say it makes sense.

  6. #16
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    Re: CO2 or carbon dioxide

    Two scientists walked into a bar.
    The first one said "I'll have some H2O"
    The second one said "I"ll have some H2O too." Sadly, he got what he asked for and died.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  7. #17
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    Re: CO2 or carbon dioxide

    Or dyed blonde.

  8. #18
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    Re: CO2 or carbon dioxide

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    ... so maybe they used the convention CH3CH2OH so us kids could correctly visualise the structural formula from this molecular formula.
    Oh yeah, I distinctly remember thinking "Wow, that's so much clearer" when I was a kid reading that! (PS - didn't take chemistry or physics and was thrown out of O Level Biology after one term.)
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  9. #19
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    Re: CO2 or carbon dioxide


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