Interesting Chemistry Facts

Chemistry is a vast and important subject that is responsible for the birth, evolution, and development of the earth. There are thousands of interesting chemistry facts that you may not aware of. In continuation of our previous issue, we are representing another list of interesting chemistry facts here in the present issue.

Check the previous article: Amazing Chemistry Facts – Part 1

So, let’s explore without wasting time.

Fluorine-love of the Medicinal Chemists

Interesting Chemistry Facts - Fluorine-love

If you are not related to medicinal chemistry or drug discovery programs, facts of fluorine-love may not be familiar to you.

Almost all of us consume medicines, so if we take a look at the composition, we may find a lot of medicine that contains fluorinated compounds.

The majority of medicinal chemists who deal with small molecules, often try to tag fluorine groups randomly to a molecule to make it bioactive. I personally am a medicinal chemist, and I also tried this several times in past.

What’s the reason?

Fluorine is one of those elements that,

  • increases the selectivity of a molecule.
  • increases the solubility of the drug and helps it easily pass through the body barriers.

However, fluorine-containing compounds are pretty limited in nature. Thus, synthetic and medicinal chemists show immense interest to derive fluorinated compounds in the laboratory. Of course, there are several other techniques to make a molecule bioactive; however, fluorine gained immense attention due to another reason: the replacement of hydrogen atoms in a compound by flouring is a relatively easier job.

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Human-shaped molecule!!

[funniest among the interesting chemistry facts 😃]

Interesting Chemistry Facts - Human-shaped molecule

Scientifically a human-shaped compound is known as Anthropomorphic molecules. In 2003 Stephanie H. Chanteau and James M. Tour from Rice University architected a library of Anthropomorphic molecules.

They synthesized a variety of human-shaped molecular model by altering the head shapes and boby-shapes.

To alter the head-shapes of the primary Anthropomorphic molecule NanoKid was treated under microwave oven irradiation with a series of 1,2- or 1,3-diols in the presence of the acid catalysts, and this way they derived 8 more different head shapes.

Interesting Chemistry Facts - Human shaped compounds

The AB-polymerization of Nanoputin looks like they are holding each-others hand, while Self-assembly on a gold surface looks like dancers are practicing chorus on the dance floor.

Toughest Total synthesis

Mimicking bioactive natural products via total synthesis is one of the top options to get rid of the over-dependency on natural resources for drug discovery. Every month a number of total synthetic routes are being reported in the scientific journals worldwide, some of those present novel total synthesis of new natural products, while others are modified versions of previous reports.

Can you guess which one has been the toughest total synthesis so far?

It’s the synthesis of cyanocobalamin, in the common term vitamin B12. We all consume vitamin B12 occasionally as per needs, but most of us never knew how difficult it was to make it easily affordable to the common people.

Interesting Chemistry Facts - B12

Prof. Robert. B. Woodward of Havard University pioneered the project in the 1970s. It took 12 years to derive cyanocobalamin, while 12 Ph.D. students and 91 post-doctoral researchers were involved from several collaborative laboratories in this enormous project. Notably, the first total synthesis of vitamin B12 was summarized as a 95 steps process!

Now, you’ll become more astonished to know the yield facts of the final product. If we suppose, all the steps afforded at least 90% yield, only 0.0045% yield for the final product could be obtained compared to the initial precursors! But that didn’t happen in reality. Several steps ended up providing very poor yields (<20%), so you can realize the overview of the atom economy; the process afforded <0.001% of the final yield.

Modern chemical research becomes much easier due to the involvement of hi-tech machines, spectroscopy technologies, and semi-artificial intelligence. So must be remembered, Woodward’s team faced a much tougher challenge in that age as modern spectroscopic characterization techniques were very limited (close to non-existent). Hat’s off to the great science team.

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Chemistry of glow stick

Glow sticks are useful self-contained light sources, which emit light via the chemiluminescence process. Several chemicals and hydrogen peroxide remain filled inside a plastic stick. The excitement of a dye inside the tube is the prime reason behind the light sourcing.

When the H2O2-containing glass vial breaks down, all the chemicals mix together and excites the dye inside. Eventually, the tube starts glowing.

Let’s take a look at the simple chemistry inside:

Interesting Chemistry Facts - glow stick chemistry

Initially, hydrogen peroxide and diphenyl oxalate react to produce peroxyacid ester and phenol. Phenol remains useless here, but the peroxyacid ester decomposes spontaneously to generate carbon dioxide, and the process releases some energy. This released energy further stuck the dye to reach the excited state. But the dye doesn’t love to stay excited for a long time; thus, it starts releasing photons for relaxing back to the ground state which causes the light emission.

The color of the emitted light completely depends on nature of the dye.

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Chemistry of Coke + Mentos

Hopefully, you have seen the flying geyser of Coke-mentos experiment several times on YouTube. If you still didn’t, just check it below.

So, what’s the science behind the mad geyser?

The fact is not exactly related to the chemical reaction, rather it’s a process dealing with physical chemistry; the actual name of the responsible process is nucleation.

Soda is sweet water filled with dissolved carbon dioxide. However, the gas really doesn’t love to stay dissolved within so little amount of liquid, and thus always try to come out. If you put a glass of soda on the table you can see the Carbon dioxides are bubbling out.

Although the gas always tries to come out of the liquid, still the rate of release is pretty slow. The nucleation process speeds up in presence of rough surface area. You can feel a fizzy taste when you put soda inside your mouth; the surface inside the mouth is relatively rough and filled with lots of tiny holes. Thus, the dissolved carbon dioxide gets some extra space inside the mouth and releases at a faster rate.

A similar thing happens in presence of mentos. The surface of a Mentos contains a lot of microscopic layers of sugar which make it extremely irregular and a perfect tool for nucleation. Once the soda water contacts that rough surface the dissolved carbon dioxide starts bubbling out instantly like mad. Eventually, a very high pressure forms inside the container and the mass irrupts like the so-called “Mentos geyser”.

Why Does Onion Make You Cry?

Interesting Chemistry Facts - onion chemistry

The release of propanethial-S-oxide from onion causes eye irritation, which actually makes you cry while you cut an onion. However, propanethial-S-oxide doesn’t exist inside onion; rather it produces instantly via a multi-step process.

Upon cutting the onion, it releases an enzyme namely lachrymatory-factor synthase.

Onions contain sulfoxides within it.

The released enzyme immediately starts transforming sulfoxides into sulfenic acid.

The sulfenic acid spontaneously gets rearranged into propanethial-S-oxide. Propanethial-S-oxide starts flowing into the air and reaches your eyes to irritate them.

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Hardest substance in human body

Interesting Chemistry Facts - Enamel

Can you guess the answer? Hopefully your thoughts are moving around bones, or maybe teeth.

If you think of the latter one, you are quiet close; the right answer is not teeth exactly, but the outer layer of the teeth, the enamel.

Unlike most of the parts in our body, enamel contains minimal water content; it’s only about 4%. Enamel is rich with several minerals while calcium phosphate is the lead component.

In summary, the hardest substance in our body is enamel and it is made of 99% inorganic compounds; 95% minerals, 4% water, and only 1% protein. In comparison to enamel, bone contains only 70% inorganic substances.

Related health article: Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome related to COVID-19

Is the color of water blue?

The answer is YES.

Maybe you listened water looks blue due to the reflection of the sky. But this is not the right fact behind; due to a reflection of the sky the blue color of the water may become a bit intense, that’s it.

Interesting Chemistry Facts - waters absorption band in visible spectra

In reality, the color of the water is blue. That’s why you can see a fade blue color of the ocean even if the sky remains cloudy.

Any object on the earth appears in a particular color because it can absorb the wavelength from some other regions. Water has a weak absorption band in the red region of the visible spectra, which is very close to the infrared region. Thus water appears to be blue in color.

Now, you may be thinking why a glass of water looks colorless!

As mentioned the absorption capability of water is very weak. For that reason, the blue coloration of water is not visible until the container is extremely vast. Thus you can experience the blue water of the ocean or big lake, but not of a glass of water.

Probably, you have noticed that the color of the ocean is not equally blue in every destination. The variation of color happens due to the mixing of specific minerals in different regions. The salts and minerals also absorb certain wavelengths of the visible spectra. Thus, different colors mix up with the water-blue of oceans and appear in different shades of blue.

Can Zebrafish see colors?

Interesting Chemistry Facts - zebra fish

Yes, definitely they can see colors and they can do it better than us. Zebrafish and Goldfish are two lucky species to get a rare color-sensing capability.

In general, humans can see three primary colors: red, blue, and yellow. However, Zebrafish and Goldfish are tetrachromates as they can see the fourth color. Interestingly, the wavelength of the fourth color appears from the ultraviolet region.

Due to this special capability, they can follow the sharp movements inside water that help them catch their prey faster.

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To whom mosquitos prefer to bite? Male or Female?

Interesting Chemistry Facts - mosquito

It’s often been a topic of gossip where men and women blame each other. But the study says something different. Mosquitos can sense the body heat and intensity of carbon dioxide. You and your partner, whoever got a colder body, mosquitos will be less attracted to him/her, and vice-versa.

In general, a bigger body or a hard-working body emits a higher amount of heat. Specific people release a higher amount of carbon-di-oxide, such as smokers, pregnant women, etc.

Certainly, pregnant women emit a higher amount of heat as well as release a greater amount of carbon-di-oxide. So, these classes of people are expected to achieve a higher mosquito bite; maybe they are male or female that doesn’t matter.

Related Article: Smallest & Largest in Nature


That’s all for this issue. We’ll be coming with more interesting chemical facts in the next issue. Stay tuned.

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