Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author


The assembly of a molecule

Can be fun to read about. I kid you not. It may be a science post, but DEREK LOWE wrote it, so it is a vivid and fun-to-read science post, even though it is about chemistry.

. . . and that’s just what high-level total synthesis is like: you have to be prepared to spend months and months beating on reactions in every tiny, picky variation that you can imagine might help.

Let me speak metaphorically, for those outside the field or who have never had the experience. Total synthesis of a complex natural product is like. . .it’s like assembling a huge balloon sculpture, all twists and turns, knots and bulges, only half of the balloons are rubber and half of them are made of blown glass. And you can’t just reach in and grab the thing, either, and they don’t give you any pliers or glue. What you get is a huge pile of miscellaneous stuff – bamboo poles, cricket bats, spiral-wound copper tubing, balsa-wood dowels, and several barrels of even more mixed-up junk: croquet balls, doughnuts, wadded-up aluminum foil, wobbly Frisbees, and so on.

The balloon sculpture is your molecule. The piles of junk are the available chemical methods you use to assemble it. . .

If you find this kind of thing interesting, then by all means read the whole thing, right?

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