American Chemical Society, GE joint effort could broaden use of science emojis

WASHINGTON, June 27, 2017 — For most of us, emojis are a fun way to express ourselves. But for many scientists, these expressive icons are a disappointment because so few of them represent aspects of their daily work lives. That could soon change, however. Nine new science emojis proposed jointly by the American Chemical Society (ACS) and General Electric (GE) are being considered by a technical review board for addition to the hundreds already in use.

“I’m delighted that ACS in collaboration with GE is leading the effort to create science emojis,” says ACS Executive Director and CEO Thomas J. Connelly Jr., Ph.D. “Emojis have become an essential communication tool in today’s society, with more than 6 billion emojis and emoticons sent around the world every day on mobile messaging apps. Science emojis would boost — and help demystify — science in modern conversation, and ACS is committed to ensuring that science and scientists are represented.”

The nine proposed emojis are a lab coat, test tube, microbe, petri dish, DNA structure, compass, abacus, fire extinguisher and goggles. They came to life last year during a brainstorming session sponsored by GE and led by ACS staff at Emojicon, a conference in San Francisco devoted to all things emoji. These icons will be evaluated for inclusion as official emojis this fall by the Unicode Consortium, a nonprofit that develops and maintains software standards used internationally. If approved, one or more of them could be rolled out for use in 2018 while the others could begin appearing on phone keyboards in the next few years.

Of the more than 1,300 emojis currently available, fewer than a dozen explicitly represent science. These include a microscope, a telescope and an alembic (an alchemical still used for distillation). Prior to this joint effort, ACS and GE had each sought to rectify this scarcity in its own way: ACS developed chemojis, a set of chemistry-themed digital stickers, while GE created Emoji Science, an emoji-based science information campaign.

The American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, is a not-for-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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