From Good Comics:

In 1963, the Disney Studio learned just how wide and faithful a readership Barks had. A letter arrived from Joseph B. Lambert of the California Institute of Technology, pointing out a curious reference in “The Spin States of Carbenes,” a technical article soon to be published by P.P. Gaspar and G.S. Hammond (in Carbene Chemistry, edited by Wolfgang Kirmse, New York: Academic Press, 1964). “Despite the recent extensive interest in methylene chemistry,” read the article’s last paragraph, “much additional study is required…. Among experiments which have not, to our knowledge, been carried out as yet is one of a most intriguing nature suggested in the literature of no less than 19 years ago (91).” Footnote 91, in turn, directed readers to issue 44 of Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories. It seems Donald’s reference to CH2 in panel 2.1 was years ahead of its time: the existence of this elusive chemical intermediate had not been proven in 1944.

However, they also believe that a Donald Duck comic caused a patent for raising a ship from the bottom of the ocean to be rejected, which is actually a myth.

  • Have I got this right? The claim is that the chemical gobbledygook that the comic writers put in the mouth of Donald Duck accidentally included a molecular formula, CH2, that wasn't actually shown to exist for 19 more years. Given Good Comics already have a reference to the paper and scan of the comic, what sort of evidence would it take to convince you this story is true or false?
    – Oddthinking
    Jul 16, 2012 at 2:31
  • @Oddthinking: I can't access the paper :-(
    – Casebash
    Jul 16, 2012 at 6:24

1 Answer 1


While I couldn't find an online version of the original paper,

  • "The Spin States of Carbenes. (No. 3036)", P.P. Gaspar and G.S. Hammond, Chapter 12 in "Carbene Chemistry", Vol. 1. W. Kirmse, Editor, Academic Press, New York, pp 235-274 (1964)

at least it does exist.

But there is a reference to it in the textbook "Organic Chemistry" by Morrison and Boyd:

Morrison & Boyd Source

Donald Duck Source

enter image description here Source


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