Posts Tagged ‘General’

Secrets of a university tutor: (curly) arrow pushing

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Curly arrows are something most students of chemistry meet fairly early on. They rapidly become hard-wired into the chemists brain. They are also uncontroversial! Or are they? Consider the following very simple scheme.


And now for something completely different: The art of molecular sculpture.

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Chemistry as the inspiration for art! The inspiration was the previous post. As for whether its art, you decide for yourself. Click on each thumbnail for a molecular sculpture (the medium being electrons!). (more…)

Bio-renewable green polymers: Stereoinduction in poly(lactic acid)

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

Lactide is a small molecule made from lactic acid, which is itself available in large quantities by harvesting plants rather than drilling for oil. Lactide can be turned into polymers with remarkable properties, which in turn degrade down easily back to lactic acid. A perfect bio-renewable material!


Semantically rich molecules

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Peter Murray-Rust in his blog asks for examples of the Scientific Semantic Web, a topic we have both been banging on about for ten years or more (DOI: 10.1021/ci000406v). What we are seeking of course is an example of how scientific connections have been made using inference logic from semantically rich statements to be found on the Web (ideally connections that might not have previously been spotted by humans, and lie overlooked and unloved in the scientific literature). Its a tough cookie, and I look forward to the examples that Peter identifies. Meanwhile, I thought I might share here a semantically rich molecule. OK, I identified this as such not by using the Web, but as someone who is in the process of delivering an undergraduate lecture course on the topic of conformational analysis. This course takes the form of presenting a set of rules or principles which relate to the conformations of molecules, and which themselves derive from quantum mechanics, and then illustrating them with selected annotated examples. To do this, a great many semantic connections have to be made, and in the current state of play, only a human can really hope to make most of these. We really look to the semantic web as it currently is to perhaps spot a few connections that might have been overlooked in this process. So, below is a molecule, and I have made a few semantic connections for it (but have not actually fully formalised them in this blog; that is a different topic I might return to at some time). I feel in my bones that more connections could be made, and offer the molecule here as the fuse!


Carbobenzene: benzene with a difference

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Some molecules, when you first see them, just intrigue. So it was with carbobenzene, the synthesis of a derivative of which was recently achieved by Remi Chauvin and co-workers (DOI: 10.1002/chem.200601193). Two additional carbon atoms have been inserted into each of the six C-C bonds in benzene.


The structure of the hydrogen ion in water.

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Stoyanov, Stoyanova and Reed recently published on the structure of the hydrogen ion in water. Their model was H(H2O)n+, where n=6 (DOI: 10.1021/ja9101826). This suggestion was picked up by Steve Bachrach on his blog, where he added a further three structures to the proposed list, and noted of course that with this type of system there must be a fair chance that the true structure consists of a well-distributed Boltzmann population of a number of almost iso-energetic forms.


To blog or to publish. That is the question.

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Scientists write blogs for a variety of reasons. But these do probably not include getting tenure (or grants). For that one has to publish. And I will argue here that a blog is not currently accepted as a scientific publication (for more discussion on this point, see this article by Maureen Pennock and Richard Davis). For chemists, publication means in a relatively small number of high-impact journals. Anything more than five articles a year in such journals, and your tenure is (probably) secure (if not your funding).


The conformational analysis of cyclo-octane

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

In the previous post, I suggested that inspecting the imaginary modes of planar cyclohexane might be a fruitful and systematic way in which at least parts of the conformational surface of this ring might be probed. Here, the same process is conducted for cyclo-octane. The ring starts with planar D8h symmetry, and at this geometry (B3LYP/6-311G(d,p), DOI: 10042/to-3742) five negative force constants (corresponding to imaginary modes) are calculated. The most negative is non-degenerate, and gives directly the crown conformation of D4d symmetry (DOI: 10042/to-3738). The remaining four modes comprise two degenerate pairs. Following either of the E2u eigenvectors downhill leads to another conformation, D2d (DOI: 10042/to-3741), with a geometry which is noteworthy for exhibiting a pair of unusually close non-bonded H…H contacts (1.908Å). This value is about  0.3Å shorter than the sum of the Wan der Waals radii (DOI: 10.1021/jp8111556). We can debate whether such a close approach or inter-penetration of two hydrogens is a bond or not (an AIM analysis appears at the bottom of this post). (more…)

The conformation of cyclohexane

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Like benzene, its fully saturated version cyclohexane represents an icon of organic chemistry. By 1890, the structure of planar benzene was pretty much understood, but organic chemistry was still struggling somewhat to fully embrace three rather than two dimensions. A grand-old-man of organic chemistry at the time, Adolf von Baeyer, believed that cyclohexane too was flat, and what he said went. So when a young upstart named Hermann Sachse suggested it was not flat, and furthermore could exist in two forms, which we now call chair and boat, no-one believed him. His was a trigonometric proof, deriving from the tetrahedral angle of 109.47 at carbon, and producing what he termed strainless rings.