Best preface of a MSc thesis


Few days ago I was reading this preface of a MSc thesis. It’s from a chemist fellow, drinking buddy and “philosophical” discussion pal. I find it quite amazing as it clearly catch the spirit of the daily work in a chemistry laboratory. Blood, sweat and tears in the frontline of science:


“Twelve months ago I started this project as a catalysis project, but it turned out to be long battle against a small molecule. This paper is the report of this long process. It cannot express the long days spent in the lab, battling shoulder to shoulder with my fellow scientists and friends, the joy for the synthesis, the hope for good results and the sadness and tiredness with each failed attempt.”


And this also reminds me about my own PhD thesis (that by the way you can download from the university library here). At the end of the first page (acknowledgment) I wrote this line:


“At the end, thanks to you, reader. If you are reading this line after the others, you at least read one page of my thesis. Thank You.”

Moreover, as (a nerd) easter egg the page number 42 of my thesis is in italic…..

What about you? Did you write something funny in your thesis?


  1. Nicolau's Moustache.

    I plan on putting in a singular synthesis “1 Gypsy tear” in my supplemental info. Currently writing my thesis. will let you know if it goes through.

  2. BRSM

    Not particularly funny, but for some reason I included the following quote on a page by itself after the title page in my actual PhD thesis:

    “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan, ‘press on’ has solved, and always will solve, the problems of the human race.” -Calvin Coolidge

    One of my examiners asked me during my viva/defence if I though that hard work really was the most important determinant of success in total synthesis. “Well,” I replied “It also helps to be lucky!”.

    I also acknowledged my girlfriend for “for all of the spectra you ran for me, for the many trips you made to the library to get me papers from obscure journals, for putting up with my annoying habit of trying to do chemistry in the evenings and for all the cheese.” and I think the phrase “brick dust” does appear somewhere in the experimental

    • Vit

      I’m quite sure that in my MSc labbook whatever things impossible to dissolve in DMF or DMSO was classified as “dust”

  3. ghett_smart

    I believe my masters thesis acknowledgements contained a thank you to my girlfriend promising her many more years of neglect.

    • Vit

      most of our acknowledgements are for people that deal with us (and with our synthetic/experimental frustration)

  4. Elena

    On the back of my thesis there is a shiny “DON’T PANIC”… I think it goes very well with your 42 in Italics :)

  5. Ricardo Ferraz

    I also included this quote “Organic chemistry nowadays almost drives me mad. To me it appears like a primeval tropical forest, full of the most remarkable things, a dreadful endless jungle into which one does not dare enter for there seems to be no way out”
    Friedrich Wöhler (1800-1882)

    Damn you Wohler

  6. Ola

    In 1990, I acted in – in 2000, I hid the quote “Did you know that in our solar system there could be several instances of alien surveillance equipment… and we’d never notice?” in the inner margin in the bibliography of my MSc thesis.

    In the preface I thanked the Trappist monks of the Abbey of Scourmont in Belgium for making the world a better place to live. In my 2013 LicSc thesis, I thanked them for continuing to do so. In case you’re not familiar with them, they are the brewers of Chimay beer.

    The LicSc thesis was on sleep quality, so I also had this quote from George Carlin in the preface:

    People say, “I’m going to sleep now,” as if it were nothing. But it’s really a bizarre activity. “For the next several hours, while the sun is gone, I’m going to become unconscious, temporarily losing command over everything I know and
    understand. When the sun returns, I will resume my life.” If you didn’t know what sleep was, and you had only seen it in a science fiction movie, you would think it was weird and tell all your friends about the movie you’d seen.

    “They had these people, you know? And they would walk around all day and be OK? And then, once a day, usually after dark, they would lie down on these special platforms and become unconscious. They would stop functioning almost completely, except deep in their minds they would have adventures and experiences that were completely impossible in real life. As they lay there, completely vulnerable to their enemies, their only movements were to occasionally shift from one position to another; or, if one of the ‘mind adventures’ got too real, they would sit up and scream and be glad they weren’t unconscious anymore. Then they would drink a lot of coffee.”

    So, next time you see someone sleeping, make believe you’re in a science fiction movie. And whisper, “The creature is regenerating itself.”