As Christmas is getting ever closer, thoughts turn to gift giving and receiving. As the product manager for our Viscotek range, I can’t help but think in scientific terms when assessing what kind of present I would like to receive. So the question is this – which makes the best gift, one with a high molecular weight (MW), high intrinsic viscosity (IV) or both?

At the bottom end of the Christmas present scale is surely the ubiquitous gift of socks.  Socks make a small, lightweight present and can therefore represent low molecular weight.  They are easily foldable into a ball and are quite short as well, so therefore can be considered to have a low intrinsic viscosity.   With a low molecular weight and low intrinsic viscosity, I would say that socks come quite low in desirability.

Next, let’s consider a jumper, or a sweater.  A sweater’s unusual shape means it would have a much higher intrinsic viscosity, but its relatively low weight means it only has a slightly higher molecular weight than the socks.  With its higher IV it therefore appears to be slightly more desirable.

molecular weight instrinsic viscosity christmas

With a high molecular weight but a very low intrinsic viscosity, consider a lump of coal.  It’s quite a heavy material  which means it has a higher molecular weight, but its density and round shape means it will have a very low intrinsic viscosity.  Again, not very desirable.

Finally, we’ll think about a new television.  A tv will be fairly heavy and therefore have a high molecular weight.  Its flat, extended shape means that it will have a high intrinsic viscosity, and its rigidity even means that it would have a high ‘persistence length’ (it will resist the urge to fold up into a smaller shape).

So it seems from these examples that the most desirable presents have both high molecular weight and intrinsic viscosity.  If I were forced to choose, I think  I’d probably choose high intrinsic viscosity over high molecular weight – afterall, wh0 wants to end up with a lump of coal in their stocking!

TV image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at, Socks image courtesy of Gualberto107 at, Coal image courtesy of dan at

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