Some Very Basic Chemistry

Some Very Basic Chemistry

DNA is a Macromolecule

cartoon chemist

What is a Macromolecule?

All matter is made of small particles called atoms. Atoms are far too small to be seen with the naked eye or even with a microscope. In fact, more than a trillion atoms could fit over the period at the end of a sentence. There are about 90 different kinds of atom found in nature. Matter made up of all one kind of atom is called an element.

cartoon chemist

What is a Macromolecule?

All matter is made of small particles called atoms. Atoms are far too small to be seen with the naked eye or even with a microscope. In fact, more than a trillion atoms could fit over the period at the end of a sentence. There are about 90 different kinds of atom found in nature. Matter made up of all one kind of atom is called an element.

elements and symbols

Clearly, however, there are more than 90 different kinds of matter in our world. This is because atoms can combine in chemical reactions to produce a myriad of new substances. For example, when one atom of sodium (which by itself is a soft metal) and one atom of chlorine (which by itself is a poison green gas) combine, the result is a compound called sodium chloride, more commonly known as table salt. A compound is made up of two or more elements that are chemically bonded.

picture of NaCl chemical equation

A molecule is the smallest particle of a compound that has all the properties of that compound. We write the molecular formula of salt as NaCl to indicate it has one atom of sodium and one atom of chlorine.

Atoms may be compared to a variety of differently sized and shaped lego building blocks which can be fitted together in a variety of ways to form a multitude of different creations. The atoms of each element are distinguished by their mass and by the number of connections they can make with other atoms. There is virtually an infinite variety of compounds possible.

Some molecules are small, such as water, H2O, which has only three atoms and table salt NaCl which has two. Others are larger such as a molecule of table sugar, C12H22O11 (sucrose) which has 45 atoms. Still other molecules, such as proteins and nucleic acids (DNA), are gigantic. They are made up of repeating subunits called monomers. They can contain tens of thousands of atoms.

These gigantic molecules are called macromolecules.

Even individual macromolecules are too small to be seen with the naked eye.

Where Can I Go From Here?

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Where Can I Go From Here?

©️2002 - 2017 Context.info

Contexo.info is a not for profit, educational website.