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Biology LibreTexts

2: Basic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry

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    • 2.1: Introduction
      In this chapter, we start with a review basic chemistry from atomic structure to molecular bonds to the structure and properties of water, followed by a review of key principles of organic chemistry - the chemistry of carbon-based molecules. You may find it useful to have your old general chemistry textbook handy, or check out the excellent introduction to general chemistry by Linus Pauling (1988, General Chemistry New York, Springer-Verlag).
    • 2.2: Atoms and Basic Chemistry
      The difference between elements and atoms is often confused in casual conversation. Both terms describe matter, substances with mass. Different elements are different kinds of matter distinguished by different physical and chemical properties. In turn, the atom is the fundamental unit of matter…, that is, of an element.
    • 2.3: Chemical bonds
      Atoms form bonds to make molecules. Covalent bonds are strong. They can involve unequal or equal sharing of a pair of electrons, leading to polar covalent bonds and non-polar covalent bonds respectively. Ionic bonds are weaker than covalent bonds, created by electrostatic interactions between elements that can gain or lose electrons. Hydrogen (H-) bonds are in a class by themselves! These electrostatic interactions account for the physical and chemical properties of water. They are also involved
    • 2.4: A Close Look at Water Chemistry
      Hydrogen bonds are a subcategory of electrostatic interaction (i.e., formed by the attraction of oppositely charges). As noted above, water molecules attract one another (cohere) because of strong electrostatic interactions that form H-bonds. Because of water’s polar covalent nature, it is able to attract positively and negatively charged groups of solutes, making it a good solvent.
    • 2.5: Some Basic Biochemistry- Carbon, Monomers, Polymers and the Synthesis and Degradation of Macromolecules
      Like evolution, the origin of life involved some prebiotic ‘natural selection’ of chemicals in the environment. As with evolution, this chemical selection would favor expanding possibility and diversity. In simple terms, atoms that could interact with a maximal number of other atoms to form the largest number of stable molecules would have been most likely to accumulate in the environment. The tetravalent C atom met these criteria for chemical selection, proving perfect for building an organic c
    • 2.6: Key Words and Terms