Linguistics of organic chemistry, but still a Math problem!

Trust me, you don’t need to know any chemistry to solve this. This question comes form a Russian Linguistics Olympiad, but involves a little math too.


The formulae for six chemical compounds and their names are given below in mixed order:

C3H8, C4H6, C3H4, C4H8, C7H14, C2H2

Heptene, Butyne, Propane, Butene, Ethyne, Propyne.

  1. Match the formulae with their names. Explain your solution.
  2. Write the names of the compounds with the following formulae: C2H4, C2H6, C7H12
  3. Write the formulae for the following elements: propene, butane.

Chemistry was my bugbear science in school – I could not see all the patterns and so I had to memorise stuff. It did make more sense to me when I had learned more Physics however. Maybe our highschool teachers tried to shield us from the complexities of atomic interactions, but by not explaining it deeply, they made the reactions seem somewhat ‘magical’, and that ain’t science.

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