Win up to $50 exercising your brain at Terra Sigillata

I've never properly acknowledged the commercial artist, Mr Brien O'Reilly of SaBOR Design, who designed the content-rich, scientific eye-candy banner in the masthead above for the Sb version of Terra Sigillata.

So, I'd like to kick off the week raising awareness of the banner and advertising Mr O'Reilly's talents and services by asking some questions of you about the design elements of the banner. And, since I know that many readers of Terra Sig are poor graduate students or postdoctoral fellows, I'm well-aware that nothing gets your attention like cash-for-knowledge. (Well, yes, free alcohol and/or sex would work, too, but it's easier and legal to just give away a few bucks.)

More below the fold....

To be eligible for the prizes below, send your contact info and answers to each of the five questions listed below by e-mail to: terrasigillata (AT) gmail (DOT) com.

Please do NOT send entries to my regular contact e-mail address because that account is too full of comments and spam for me to address the entries systematically. It also goes without saying that you should NOT list your answers in the comment thread unless you want to dilute your chances of winning - only e-mail entries will be eligible for prizes. Use the comment thread only to ask questions, comment...or just to let the hard-working Mr O'Reilly know how much you like the banner.

Should the judges deem your answers worthy of receiving the prize values listed below, note in your e-mail message whether you have a PayPal account or whether you would like a check. It's best to do PayPal if you live in one of the 55 countries where they operate. You do not have to have a PayPal account set up yet to get the prizes if you win, but you'd have to set up an account (free) using the same e-mail account by which you submitted your answers.


1. For $5 (USD): What is the complete name of the dude on the righthand side of the banner and why do you think I picked him to as the icon for Terra Sigillata?

2. For $5 (USD): What is the name of the chemical compound on the left side of the banner (i.e., the one whose catechol ring surrounds the "S" of "Sigillata"?

3. For $10 (USD): What is the name of the chemical compound on the right (i.e., immediately to the right of "Sigillata" but the left of the dude)?

4. For $10 (USD): Which compound (i.e., 2 or 3) is most closely associated with the work of the dude on the right in #1?

5. For $20 (USD): What is the common precursor molecule (i.e. building block) that is used biosynthesize both molecules 2 and 3?

Clarifications for questions #2 and #3:

I recognize that both compounds in #2 and #3 are obscured and cut off a bit. But that's why it's tricky! So here are the rules to choose the one best answer for questions #2 and #3:

For question #2, you must pick the compound most closely associated with the dude on the right.

For question #3, there are a couple of correct answers and the most complete answer will get the prize for that one (i.e., if you name one or two others besides the one I intended, you'll get the prize for this question.).

Chemical Names

For the names of the chemicals in #2, #3, #4, and #5, I know that some folks like Milo will want to impress me with use of the international chemical nomeclature established by IUPAC, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. Listen, friends: all I'm looking for here are the trivial , generic, or otherwise systematic names of the compounds (some call these the "international nonproprietary name"). I'm sure that my chemistry colleagues will come over to spank me in the comments, but I'm really trying to make this contest inclusive and educational, with being too egochemocentric.

"But Dr Pharmboy, the readers in Europe get more time to answer this exam than us in're not being fair!"

Can you tell that I've taught undergraduate and professional students? Yes, dear readers, this post went up when our European, Middle Eastern, Central Asian, and African colleagues were waking up on Monday, folks in Singapore were taking afternoon tea, the Japanese, Filipinos, and Australians were knocking off for the day, and some New Zealanders, Polynesians, and Kiribatians turning in for bed Monday night.

Hence, I will select all of the correct entries through 000 hrs GMT on Tues 18 July 2006 (i.e., regardless of where you live). This gives folks in Paris until Tues 2 am local time, New York City until Mon 8 pm local time, Anchorage until Mon 4 pm local time, and Auckland until noon Tues. The Australians and Japanese might be a little disadvantaged, but hopefully they are checking in to Terra Sig before bed or first thing Tues morning, as everyone should for proper balance of chi and optimal physical and mental functioning.

Each correct entry will be assigned an integer in an Excel spreadsheet in the order received, and then a random sequence generator will used to create a second column of numbers. The entry that matches the lowest random number in the generated sequence will be deemed the winner for each question. (Just so you know, I first thought about taking one correct entry for each question from each time zone and selecting one at random, but some time zones are far, far more populous than others, seeming less fair to some.)

I will then contact you via the e-mail address used to submit your answers to let you know the outcome, set up payment stuff, and ask your permission to post your identity/pseudoidentity on Terra Sig later this week.

Other disclaimer stuff

When the legal folks at Seed Media Group see this in NYC in the morning, they might put the almighty kibosh on the whole thing as there may be corporate rules and such on giving away cash. However, the prizes will come from the personal account of a scientist writing under the name Abel Pharmboy and are offered independently of his relationship with Seed Media Group. In the event that legal busts my chops in the morning, I reserve the right to provide winners with a prize in proportion to the USD values listed for each question. One exclusionary rule that makes sense, however, is that no bloggers or employees of Seed Media Group will be eligible for prizes. However, y'all are more than welcome to submit answers/guesses out of a sense of your scientific pride!

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