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Basic Chemistry

Basic Information
molecular formulae
structural formulae
Molecular Formulae


Chemistry of the Cell
Basic Information
  Proteins
      About Proteins
 
     Amino Acids
      Mutations 
  Nucleic Acids

Writing Molecular Formulae

A molecular formula shows the kind and number of atoms in a molecule

Examples of Molecular Formulae of Some Common Compounds

Common name

Molecular Formula

Carbon

Hydrogen

Oxygen

Nitrogen

Water

H2O

0

2

1

0

Carbon dioxide

CO2

1

0

2

0

Ammonia

NH3

 0

3

 0

1

Vinegar

CH3COOH

2

4

2

0

Table sugar

C12H22O11

12

22

11

0

Drawing Pictures of Molecules

In spite of the fact that molecules are far too small to be seen, we have several ways of drawing pictures of them.  Scientists frequently draw diagrams called structural formulae to illustrate how the atoms are arranged in a molecule.  

Structural Formulae of Some Familiar Molecules

Water

H—O—H

Carbon dioxide

O—C—O


Ammonia
 

Vinegar

Sucrose
(table sugar)

Three Dimensional Molecular Models

The structural formulae of macromolecules are often so complex that they can’t be drawn in two dimensions.  Early pioneers of molecular biology build models from wood, wired and other materials.  With the advance of computer graphics, however, three dimensional models that represent their structure and shape can be created. Often these take the form of stick and ball models in which atoms of different kinds are represented by colored balls with the bonds connecting them represented by sticks.  Such models are extremely useful in understanding the functions and interactions of the large molecules found in living cells (as long as you don't think this is really what they look like;) 



A ball and stick model of an unidentified protein

 

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This web is lovingly dedicated to the memory of
Mr. James Dorsey
who so graciously and enthusiastically
donated his DNA to solve our family mystery. 


Jim Dorsey
2/12/1930 — 4-30-2002

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