An album released today by Dead Sara, titled Ain't It Tragic, has a chemical structure on the album cover. Here's a close-up of that structure:

Snip of album cover

As the structure is partially obscured, it's difficult to identify what molecule might be depicted. However, I was able to identify some features that may be useful:

Several functional groups circled

As an undergraduate chemistry student, I haven't encountered any structures similar enough to this to give me an idea of what I need to be looking for. Here are the things I've been able to establish so far:

  • One aromatic ring with a hydroxyl group
  • Two rings fused to the aromatic ring, one of which is an ether ring and the other of which has a tricyclic structure (bridge carbon marked #16)
  • Another fused ring with two bridge carbons (#8 and #17)
  • A methyl ether extending from this ring
  • A cyclopropyl group connected in some way to the main chain
  • The structure has at least 26 carbons: the 24 numbered carbons and two carbons in the lower right that are part of side chains.

What molecule is this?


1 Answer 1


I see two possible candidates: buprenorphine and thienorphine. Both are strong opioid painkillers fitting the “art” theme. Depending on how one draws the location of what appears to be a methoxy and a methylene group, it could be either one of those drugs. I leave it to the reader to decide how to unveil the structural part covered by the middle finger (literally) by posting a triptych for comparison:

A: cropped molecular fragment from the cover art; B: Buprenorphine; C: Thienorphine.

Fig. 1. A: cropped molecular fragment from the cover art; B: Buprenorphine; C: Thienorphine.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Worth noting that, though buprenorphine is itself an opioid painkiller, one of its major medical uses is in treating opioid addiction caused by more common opiates like heroin. $\endgroup$
    – matt_black
    Sep 19, 2021 at 20:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thank you for the thorough answer with imagery! I think I'll go with buprenorphine because it has 24 carbons (not counting the methoxy group), which matches the numbers shown on the cover art. It's difficult to see how the cyclopropyl group on thienorphine might be numbered 22, 23, 24 without using nonconsecutive numbers on the thiophene ring. $\endgroup$
    – Zenon
    Sep 20, 2021 at 14:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.