- 2.1: The Building Blocks of Molecules
- At its most fundamental level, life is made up of matter. Matter occupies space and has mass. All matter is composed of elements, substances that cannot be broken down or transformed chemically into other substances. Each element is made of atoms, each with a constant number of protons and unique properties. Each element is designated by its chemical symbol and possesses unique properties. These unique properties allow elements to combine and to bond with each other in specific ways.
- 2.2: Water
- Do you ever wonder why scientists spend time looking for water on other planets? It is because water is essential to life; even minute traces of it on another planet can indicate that life could or did exist on that planet. Water is one of the more abundant molecules in living cells and the one most critical to life as we know it. Approximately 60–70 percent of your body is made up of water. Without it, life simply would not exist.
- 2.3: Biological Molecules
- There are four major classes of biological macromolecules (carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids), and each is an important component of the cell and performs a wide array of functions. Combined, these molecules make up the majority of a cell’s mass. Biological macromolecules are organic, meaning that they contain carbon (with some exceptions, like carbon dioxide).
Thumbnail: Fatty acid molecules with cis and trans configurations. (CC BY 4.0 / modified from original; OpenStax).