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John Kiernan asks:

>>Barbituric acid, barbiturates and all the other "barbi-" compounds 
commemorate "a lady named Barbara" revered and perpetuated by a particularly 
perspicacious chemist of the 1890s who recognized an unconventional "acid" 
structure. Can anyone remember the clever chemist's name?<<

I heard the "lady named Barbara" story (about Adolf von Baeyer, or perhaps 
Emil Fischer) from my organic chemistry professor in 1957, but the following 
tells a fine yarn and suggests that Saint Barbara may be the lady in question.

Saint Barbara was a perhaps legendary saint whose father beheaded her after 
she refused to renounce her conversion to Christianity. She is thus always 
depicted holding a very large sword. (A sweet Catholic lady named Barbara - a 
technologist, but I'll never tell - once told me that she is also depicted 
carrying the Holy Sacrament.) Because of the sword, she represents the Yoruba 
fightin' god Chango in the Afro-Caribbean (Santero) pantheon.

Bob Richmond
Samurai Pathologist and omo-Oshun wannabe
Knoxville TN

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