The first is for Roger Green, who said he liked chemistry. He's also a trivia genius, so I tried to think of something he'd never heard of.
|Chirality is all about "handedness." Bet you didn't know that a molecule could have a left or a right "hand"! (Image from Nature Publishing Group, Chiral molecules: High-speed photography, research highlight.)|
In my last ABC Wednesday post, I invited readers to share their favorite science topics. Here's a schedule so far:
Roger, chemistry, "C"
Leslie, oceanography, "D"
photowannabe, animals, "E"
PhenoMenon, astronomy, "F"
Carver, conservation of natural resources, "G"
ChrisJ, botony, "H"
LC Scotty, statistical mechanics, "I"
So, if there's a subject you're interested in, let me know.
Chirality is an important part of chemistry, particularly organic chemistry, the study of the chemistry of molecules with carbon in them.
With very simple molecules like H2O - water - there's only one way to arrange the three atoms - 2 hydrogens (H) and 1 oxygen (O) - in the molecule.
But with molecules with many atoms in them, you can have the same formula but not the same arrangement. Molecules can fit in a different order.
Chirality defines groups of molecules that are very, very similar, even in their arrangement. The only difference is that they are perfect mirror images of each other.
How can two things have a similar arrangement and be perfect mirror images, but not the same thing? Think of your hands. Your fingers and thumbs on each hand are in similar places, but your left and right hand are not the same. They're perfect mirror images of each other.
|A good image from Wikipedia showing the concept of chirality.|
|A real molecule that shows chirality. Both of these are different orientations of alanine. The formula is the same for both, HOCCH(NH)CH.|
Next post is "D" on oceanography... trust me, you'll like it! :-) )