At 09:43 PM 11/16/02, Marc A. Schindler wrote:
Oh, NOW you've opened a can of worms.

Recall that the only way to re-can worms after the can has been opened is to use a larger can.

Ronn -- a short lecture on chemical
nomenclature if you don't mind. What *do* those numbers before a chemical
compound's name mean?

Oy. AFAIK, this list is restricted to text-only, and this is one of those cases where a picture is worth at least 1,000 words (if not more).

Short answer: the numbers in 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine, for example, indicate that methyl (CH3-) groups have replaced the hydrogens normally found at the locations on the xanthine molecule that by agreementı are numbered "1", "3", and "7".

ıLong answer: For the ultimate word on naming compounds, see: <<>> (Have fun!) Or ask your son to mail you his textbook when he finishes organic.

And while you're at it, do we live in a left-handed world or a right-handed world,
and why?

Short answer: Most life on Earth uses left-handed amino acids. No one knows why. Although the amino acids found in meteorites such as the Murchison² and Allende meteorites contain a large amount of right-handed forms (suggesting a non-biological origin), there is a light excess of left-handed forms. A recent hypothesis (speculation?) I have heard is that the polarization of starlight hitting molecules in molecular clouds may preferentially destroy right-handed molecules, thus the protoplanetary disk from which those meteorites formed already contained an excess of left-handed amino acids, which may (or may not) explain why life on Earth came to be almost exclusively composed of the left-handed forms, as those were available in larger quantities.

²Did the BYU Geology Department ever locate the piece of the Murchison meteorite that was given to them back in 1979, and promptly misplaced?

--Ronn! :)

I always knew that I would see the first man on the Moon.
I never dreamed that I would see the last.
--Dr. Jerry Pournelle

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