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Chemistry Cat memes first appeared around 2011.(Chem. 2016) The earliest known
instance of “Chemistry Cat” series can be found in a Reddit thread posted on April 19th, 2011, of
an image originating from the ICanHasCheezburger forums.(Chem. 2016) The name “Chemistry
Cat” has been previously given to LOLcat images, but the macro series only emerged in late July
2011.(Chem. 2016) While the source of the image remains in veil, it is likely a stock photograph,
possibly of Russian origin.(Chem. 2016) Chemistry Cat (sometimes known as Science Cat) is an
advice animal image macro series which consists of a scientific pun, and a picture of a cat with a
bow-tie and glasses sitting in front of a board.(Chem. 2016) These puns are usually based on the
names of chemical elements from the periodic table or various laws of chemistry. Each meme is
typically a joke, well-known by high school chemistry teachers and students. Therefore, each
meme has relatively low-level concepts. Advanced concepts, such as nuclear fission or fusion,
entropy, enthalpy, molarity, etc. aren’t used.
The audience for these memes are chemistry students, whether high or middle school,
grade school chemistry teachers, and, in general, anyone interested in chemistry. Chemistry
students would enjoy the memes, as they are a bit clever, and relate to their course material. They
may even help them to remember certain physical or chemical properties of elements, or main
ideas in general. For example, one meme is, “Argon walks into a bar, the bar man says, “Get the
hell out.” Argon does not react.”(Chem. 2016) This meme is going off the fact that Argon is one
of the noble gases, and due to a full valence shell, it generally doesn’t react with other elements.
A student reading this meme would help them understand this chemical property of Argon, as
well as the fundamental property of all noble gases. Which is that out of all the elements, known
to man, they have the lowest chemical reactivity. Which, again, is due to a full valence shell.

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Which leads to teachers liking these memes for the same reasons. They may even use them to
help promote whichever chapter he/she may be trying to teach. An example being, if they were
trying to get their students to learn the most frequent polyatomic ions to show up in the course.
The meme is, “Wanna hear a Nitric Oxide joke? NO.”(Chem. 2016) The joke behind this meme
is that, the molecular formula for Nitric Oxide is NO. Furthermore, Nitric Oxide is a polyatomic
ion, and it does show up frequently in high school chemistry. So, exposing students to memes of
this nature could potentially help them learn the different polyatomic ions faster. Since students,
anyone really, can pick something up much faster if they have something to relate it to. This
would prove to be much more effective, than having each student blandly memorize each ion.
Lastly, anyone else interested in chemistry would enjoy the witty jokes made out of chemistry
properties. The meme is presented with a white cat wearing glasses and a bowtie. He/she is
behind a desk with various chemistry lab materials and a notepad. Such as test tubes with
mixtures in them, a beaker, and an erlenmeyer flask. Behind the cat is a blackboard with various
chemical formulas, equations, and cat related images. The way the cat is presented, as well as the
background give off a comedic, yet educational theme. This, again, would work well for
students’ learning. As it gives them something to laugh over concerning chemistry. Which lets
them better relate to concepts or properties, so they remember them better. Furthermore, the main
argument is that this cat is telling these various chemistry jokes. Looking back at how the meme
is presented, the rhetorical appeals are pathos and logos. The pathos aspect is that the meme
creates a comedic environment, designed to make the audience laugh. It does this by making
jokes out of chemistry facts. While the logos aspect is that the meme uses scientific, educational
concepts and properties to get their joke across. By using these concepts the audience would see
the educational side. Furthermore, in order to actually get the joke, one would need to understand

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the scientific side of the meme. Which is where the meme appeals to its audience in a logical
way. The purpose of this genre is to entertain its audience through clever chemistry jokes. The
audience must understand what concept or property the joke is referring to beforehand, though.
Which creates an educational theme alongside a comedic one. Furthermore, by creating an
educational theme, the meme adheres to values of chemistry laws. The jokes need to make sense,
concerning chemistry. The meme also values comedy, from turning chemistry concepts into
jokes. As well as science in general, since it chooses to base its jokes off of chemistry. Basing its
jokes off of chemistry is also a rather large constraint, so it can’t use another physical science.
Such as physics, biology, earth science, etc. Other constraints being that the meme must create a
joke concerning chemistry, it cannot use advanced chemistry concepts, must use high school
concepts. Lastly, jokes must be tame, at teen age level, no intense language. The language which
is expected is at a level, which an average high school student can understand. A relatively low
level of vocabulary is used, and if the viewer has chemistry knowledge they’ll understand the
joke very easily. Power in this meme is in the hands of the creator. They decide which chemistry
concept or property to use, as well as the joke surrounding it. I know power operates this way,
due to the fact that the viewer doesn’t influence the concept or joke.
The three examples are each popular internet memes, which surfaced at different eras.
The Zero Wing meme became widely known on the internet in the early 2000s, Rickrolls became
known in the mid 2000s, lastly, Chemistry Cat became known in 2011. Each meme is based on
something completely different than each other. Zero Wing meme is based on a 16-bit, sidescrolling shooter. Which is about otherworldly forces going to war and capturing bases. Rickrolls
are based off of Rick Astley’s song. Lastly, Chemistry Cat is based off of making jokes out of
chemistry concepts. Also, Chemistry Cat caters to a more scientific audience, Rickrolls to pretty

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much anyone who used youtube, and Zero Wing to fans of the game, as well as of side-scrolling
shooter fans. Chemistry Cat and Zero Wing are presented in generally the same format of a
picture and words below it. However, Rickrolls is the only meme listed presented in a video
format. While Chemistry Cat appeals to pathos and logos, Zero Wing only appeals to pathos.
Rickrolls, once again being the wildcard, can appeal to any of the three rhetorical appeals. A
similarity between all three memes is that the purpose behind them is to entertain their audience.
Though, another purpose of Rickrolls can be to annoy its audience. Moving on to Rickrolls’
values, they consist of comedy, and irritating its audience. Chemistry Cat, too, values comedy, as
well as science, specifically, chemistry. Lastly, Zero Wing, too, values comedy, as well as poor
english. Additionally, Rickrolls are more of a wild card than the other two memes. They’re a lot
less restricted in what they can relate to, due to the nature of videos. As videos can be about,
virtually anything. Whereas the other two memes are limited to one particular area, Chemistry
Cat with chemistry, and the Zero Wing meme to its game. Each meme has vastly different
languages expected of them. In Zero Wing, the language is expected to be bad or broken english.
While in Chemistry Cat, the language is expected to be at a high school level, and in Rickrolls,
the language expected is Astley’s song lyrics, and depending on the subject the video is listed
under, any text the creator may wish to add. Lastly, power in Chemistry Cat and Rickrolls lie
within the meme creator. While with Zero Wing, power lies within the game creator.
Furthermore, these differences help make each meme unique, and adds to why people caught on
to them, and popularized them to begin with. It also explains why some were more popular than
others. With Rickrolls, creators generally had more freedom to create the content they wanted,
since they had much less restrictions.

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"Chemistry Cat." Know Your Meme News. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.
"All Your Base Are Belong to Us." Know Your Meme News. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.
"Rickrolling – Everything You Need to Know." TheFW. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.

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