Henry Rzepa's Blog Chemistry with a twist

December 20, 2012

Vitamin B12 and the genesis of a new theory of chemistry.

I have written earlier about dihydrocostunolide, and how in 1963 Corey missed spotting the electronic origins of a key step in its synthesis.[1]. A nice juxtaposition to this failed opportunity relates to Woodward’s project at around the same time to synthesize vitamin B12. The step in the synthesis that caused him to ponder is shown below.



  1. E.J. Corey, and A.G. Hortmann, "The Total Synthesis of Dihydrocostunolide", Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 87, pp. 5736-5742, 1965. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ja00952a037

January 1, 2011

A comparison of left and right handed DNA double-helix models.

When Watson and Crick (WC) constructed their famous 3D model for DNA, they had to decide whether to make the double helix left or right handed. They chose a right-handed turn, on the grounds that their attempts at left-handed models all “violated permissible van der Waals contacts“. No details of what these might have been were given in their original full article (or the particular base-pairs which led to the observation). This follow-up to my earlier post explores this aspect, using a computer model.


Powered by WordPress