Scientia et Arte

If science were art and art were science, then the howling black wolf has probably swallowed some N-(4-hydroxyphenyl)ethanamide.

The Beauty of Molecules

In the course of my chemistry education, attention and fascination has been directed to the visualization of molecules. Chemistry is the study of tiny particles, isn’t it? Or at least chemistry is dealing with the atom as the fundamental unit of matter.

Even if such particles could not be seen, chemistry nevertheless creates a connection between them and the physical, real world we live in. Dr. Sheldon Cooper in the TV series The Big Bang Theory said in an episode (“The Zazzy Substitution” in Season 4, for fans out there): “Whether you see it or not is irrelevant. I can’t see subatomic particles, but nevertheless, they’re there.”

He later remarks that this is a physics point, but it could also be a chemistry point, or the point of chemistry itself. We live in a world of atoms and molecules.

I leave it up to you to expound on those thoughts, which I’m confident could be found and explained more in introductory chapters (or in prefaces) of science textbooks.

I stumbled upon this site by Alexander Kobulnicky (http://www.alexanderkobulnicky.com). He could be described as being in the crossroads of art and science. His paintings depict famous organic molecules as well as hints to their famous functions. For instance, who do not want to smell the intoxicating aroma of coffee, with caffeine (as we all know) as the active ingredient?

Caffeine

This is just one. I really recommend you check the site for more artistic creations.

The visualization of molecules has its debt to art. Also, it is gaining impetus in chemistry education, in particular in the creation of chemistry textbooks. We live also in a world of colors. Molecules are more often that not flourished with different colors, perhaps with the primary aim to different atoms (for instance, black for carbon and red for oxygen). New editions of chemistry textbooks always have better figures and illustrations, in particular with molecular representations.

Of course, many solutions (especially those with metal ions) are by themselves colored. The study and theory of colors also involve chemistry.

In the case of biochemistry, knowing all those biomolecules could make one’s head dizzy. But the essence of the field lies in understanding and not in memorization. Nevertheless, knowing structures could help one answer and rationalize chemistry-related problems. Proteins in fact are fun to view, and easier now, thanks to sites such as http://www.pdb.org and http://protopedia.org. Our instructor for Biochemistry, Dr. Rojas, has furnished a links page (http://ch151admu.wordpress.com/downloads-and-links-2/)which include some biomolecule-viewing sites.

A very good explanation into the beauty of chemistry could be found in this Youtube video below created by the Nobel Prize organization, gathering insights from 16 laureates of Nobel Prizes in Chemistry:

As indicated in the video, beauty comes also in equations. This is a feature chemistry shares in great amounts with physics, but I’ll not elaborate on this for this post.

Hemoglobin was mentioned in the clip. I remember the heme painting by Kolbunicky. Heme is a known component of hemoglobin.

Heme

Molecules, aside from being subjects of art, could also be depicting in clothing, and hence a fashion statement. Dr. Leonard Hofstadter, again from The Big Bang Theory, despite being a physicist, is fond of wearing shirts with famous molecules on them. For instance, he was seen wearing t-shirt with a capsaicin molecule in it. Of course, we know that capsaicin makes chili peppers “hot”.

Capsaicin t-shirt of Leonard

(Sorry, I cannot find pictures which show Leonard’s head or body, without sacrificing the quality or view of his shirt.)

Chemistry matters, because it is beautiful. Chemistry should enter our everyday lives, even to the very mundane like taking a bath. 🙂

(I believe this is a scene from the very first, or the pilot, episode of The Big Bang Theory. Despite being about a gang of physicists, the show brings out chemistry concepts at times.)

Scientia et arte!

Image Sources (aside from Kobulnicky’s site)

http://thlog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Big-Bang-theory-shower-curtain-for-sale.jpg

[post by Ajep Perez]

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This entry was posted on October 1, 2012 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , .
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