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40
votes
2answers
9k views

What causes the "rotting fish smell"?

Rotting fish seem to give off the same (very pungent) kind of smell, regardless of the kind (salmon, seabreen, tuna, etc). What exactly is it that's responsible for this unique smell? (Though I've ...
40
votes
3answers
2k views

Is Hexafluorocyclohexane the "Most Polar" Small Molecule?

Earlier this year, there was a lot of attention when all-cis 1,2,3,4,5,6-hexafluorocyclohexane was synthesized*: Notably, C&E News quoted the lead author: This compound is remarkable for being ...
40
votes
3answers
109k views

What is the inert pair effect?

I was reading about the p-block elements and found that the inert pair effect is mentioned everywhere in this topic. However, the book does not explain it very well. So, what is the inert pair effect? ...
40
votes
3answers
4k views

Why is fresh ice sticky?

Fresh ice cubes are almost instantly sticky and easily cling on to fabric and other similarly rough surfaces. A few minutes later, however, the effect almost completely disappears. What is the cause ...
40
votes
2answers
59k views

Why do SN1 and SN2 reactions not occur at sp2 centres?

I was told in my organic chemistry course that $\text{S}_\text{N}1$ and $\text{S}_\text{N}2$ reactions did not occur at $\text{sp}^2$ centres. When I asked why, I was not given a satisfactory ...
40
votes
2answers
89k views

How to derive these general formulae for number of stereoisomers of a compound with a possible plane of symmetry?

These formulae are used if the molecule has a possible plane of symmetry. One such example would be: Here the carbons marked with an asterisk are stereogenic centres (the asterisk is not used to mark ...
39
votes
6answers
9k views

How does ammonium nitrate explode on its own?

I thought ammonium nitrate was an oxidizer that needed to be mixed with fuel to form a high explosive (e.g., ANFO). But apparently there have been accidental explosions involving just the "...
39
votes
3answers
11k views

Which "exotic salt" can lower water's freezing point by 70 °C?

The Medium.com article Mars Phoenix Lander, 10 Years Later shows several remarkable images and discoveries on Mars by the Mars Phoenix Lander circa 2008. One image (shown below) shows what looks like ...
39
votes
7answers
23k views

Why is BCl3 a monomer whereas AlCl3 exists as a dimer?

What makes dimerization possible in $\ce{AlCl3}$? Are there 3c-2e bonds in $\ce{Al2Cl6}$ as there are in $\ce{B2H6}$?
39
votes
1answer
11k views

Can 100% covalent bonds exist?

Every covalent bond has some ionic character and every ionic bond some covalent character. I can understand why a completely ionic bond is an ideal situation. But completely covalent bonds can exist(?)...
38
votes
6answers
68k views

Why do we use helium in balloons?

While I was looking at the periodic table today, I realised that there were gases that were much lighter than helium such as hydrogen. If hydrogen is lighter than helium, why do we insist on using ...
38
votes
3answers
34k views

What is the difference between ∆G and ∆G°?

In Brady's Molecular Nature of Matter, I read that $\Delta_\mathrm{r} G^{\circ}$ is $\Delta_\mathrm{r} G$ at $25~^\circ\mathrm{C}$. But later, it gives a value for $\Delta_\mathrm{r} G^\circ$ at ...
38
votes
4answers
9k views

What exactly is happening when sodium, potassium, or other alkali metal explodes in water?

There are lots of videos on YouTube showing sodium, potassium, etc. exploding when dropped into water (this, for example). I understand that when an alkali metal is exposed to water, a violent ...
38
votes
5answers
63k views

Choosing the right condenser

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the various types of condensers commonly found in the laboratory? Obviously more intricate pieces of glassware are more costly but assuming they are all ...
38
votes
3answers
31k views

Why is the bond angle H-P-H smaller than H-N-H?

$\ce{N}$ & $\ce{P}$ are in the same group. Both $\ce{NH3}$ and $\ce{PH3}$ have one lone pair and according to VSEPR theory, both the central atoms are predicted to be $\ce{sp^3}$ hybridized. But ...
38
votes
5answers
12k views

Generating neat orbitals/surfaces from molden/wfn-files

I usually use Gaussian/GaussView and don't have to bother with other programs as I think that GaussView is capable of producing nice orbital/surface pictures like this one of one of uracil's Kohn-Sham-...
38
votes
2answers
17k views

Why is pyrimidine less basic than pyridine?

From Wikipedia's article on pyrimidine: Because of the decreased basicity compared to pyridine, electrophilic substitution of pyrimidine is less facile. But why is pyrimidine less basic than ...
38
votes
1answer
32k views

Why super glue does not stick inside their own bottle?

We usually use super glue to stick any two objects but I was wondering like why don't they stick inside their own bottle ?
38
votes
1answer
1k views

Relativistic effect: d-electrons in metallorganic complexes

With higher period the d-electrons of the metal are less strong bonded and therefore oxidative addition is easier for $\ce{Ir(I)}$ than for $\ce{Rh(I)}$ and much easier than for $\ce{Co(I)}$. For ...
37
votes
5answers
6k views

How do I visualize an atom?

I have searched and searched, oh how I have searched. I am looking for a 3-dimensional visualization of a whole atom, one that that includes all the orbital geometry. A proper "layered" view of the ...
37
votes
5answers
16k views

Why does potassium react more violently with water than lithium?

Recently, I was telling my friends about the violent reaction that takes place when you throw potassium into water. Soon after, a friend of mine claimed that lithium would react more violently than ...
37
votes
4answers
5k views

DFT Functional Selection Criteria

I have a very very general question: In DFT functional selection , mostly people speak about the most recent ones. For example my professor always asks: " which DFT Functional did you select ? " ...
37
votes
5answers
42k views

Why does alcoholic KOH prefer elimination whereas aqueous KOH prefers substitution?

What is the basic difference between aqueous and alcoholic $\ce{KOH}$? Why does alcoholic $\ce{KOH}$ prefer elimination whereas aqueous $\ce{KOH}$ prefers substitution?
37
votes
3answers
116k views

Why does carbon monoxide have a greater affinity for hemoglobin than oxygen?

Hemoglobin is an iron-containing oxygen transport metalloprotein in the red blood cells of most mammals. Simply put, it's a carrier protein. Interestingly it doesn't carry carbon dioxide in the same ...
37
votes
4answers
27k views

Gibbs free energy-minimum or zero?

A reaction proceeds towards the direction of lesser Gibbs free energy (at constant $T$ (temperature) and $P$ (pressure)). So, we could say that Gibbs free energy at equilibrium is minimum. On the ...
37
votes
2answers
27k views

What do the prefixes meta, ortho, pyro mean in inorganic chemistry?

In inorganic chemistry, when is the prefix meta used? (as in metaborate and metasulphite) What about the terms pyro and ortho (as in orthophosphorous acid)? For example, I recently came to know about ...
37
votes
1answer
46k views

What is a non-classical carbocation?

What is a non-classical carbocation? How is it different from a classical carbocation? I am confused as I have come across this term many times on Chem.SE but there seems to be nothing for my level ...
37
votes
3answers
27k views

Is methanol more acidic than water?

Methanol is slightly more acidic than water. Their $\mathrm{p}K_\mathrm{a}$ values, in water, are $15.5$ and $15.7$, respectively. All other aliphatic alcohols, however, are less acidic than water. ...
36
votes
10answers
7k views

Why is chemistry unpredictable?

Disclaimer: I am not a chemist by any means, and I only have knowledge limited to what I learned in my university's Chemistry III course. Basic understanding of everything up to valence electron ...
36
votes
3answers
6k views

A compound that absorbs all visible light

Is there a compound that absorbs all visible light?
36
votes
3answers
29k views

What is known about liquid carbon?

The wiki tells me that if you heat carbon at atmospheric pressure it eventually turns directly into a gas without being liquid first. At what pressure can you make liquid carbon? Has anyone actually ...
36
votes
3answers
24k views

IUPAC nomenclature: "Smallest sum of locants"?

While naming any compound, the numbering should be done such that position of substituted groups gives smallest sum. I'm struggling with the IUPAC naming for cyclic compounds. How exactly does this ...
36
votes
2answers
269k views

Difference between shells, subshells and orbitals

What are the definitions of these three things and how are they related? I've tried looking online but there is no concrete answer online for this question.
36
votes
4answers
4k views

Does any known substance ignite on cooling?

As the title says, I'm interested in knowing if there is any substance — or combination of substances — that ignites (or even increases its chance of spontaneous ignition) when cooled. I've never ...
36
votes
4answers
38k views

Why do atoms generally become smaller as one moves left to right across a period?

It seems to me that the addition of electrons and protons as you move across a period would cause an atom to become larger. However, I'm told it gets smaller. Why is this?
36
votes
7answers
119k views

Are metallic/ionic bonds weaker than covalent bonds?

In mineralogy class, I was taught that metallic and ionic bonds are weaker than covalent bonds and that's why quartz and diamond have such a high hardness value. However, in organic chemistry class, I ...
36
votes
2answers
2k views

IUPAC nomenclature for an interesting looking organic compound

How can I name this organic compound while adhering to the IUPAC standards?
36
votes
1answer
10k views

"Middle row anomaly" of the periodic table

I was studying about the periodic table recently, and was reading a topic associated with oxides of halogens, and came across the following line The bromine oxides, $\ce{Br2O}$, $\ce{BrO2}$, $\ce{...
36
votes
1answer
4k views

Natural Bond Orbital analysis: Significance of stabilization energy determined by 2nd order perturbation

PREFACE: I am no expert on this topic. My questions at the bottom may be off base. I have some experience with symmetry-adapted perturbation theory (SAPT) when it comes to analyzing intermolecular ...
35
votes
3answers
11k views

Why isn't ethane used for cooking?

We commonly use methane and propane for cooking (and home heating), but not ethane. I would expect ethane to be suitable for this, being in between the two, but I've never heard of anyone using it for ...
35
votes
3answers
6k views

Can hot food ever emit x-rays or gamma rays?

I was just wondering, if heating food up is the result of increasing the energy of bends and stretches in the bonds of the molecules, is it ever possible for tiny amounts of x-rays and gamma rays be ...
35
votes
3answers
1.1m views

What are the maximum number of electrons in each shell?

In my textbook, it says that the maximum number of electrons that can fit in any given shell is given by 2n². This would mean 2 electrons could fit in the first shell, 8 could fit in the second shell, ...
35
votes
5answers
46k views

A glass of water with ice-cubes in it. Where's the water the coldest; at the top or bottom?

Suppose that I fill a glass with ice water. As the ice melts, it cools the water around it. Given that cold water is denser than hot water, I would presume that the cold water would sink to the ...
35
votes
3answers
39k views

Why does basicity of group 15 hydrides decrease down the group?

In my textbook it is written that the order of basic strength of pnictogen hydrides is $$\ce{NH3 > PH3 > AsH3 > SbH3 > BiH3}$$ I tried but could not find any explanation as to why this ...
35
votes
3answers
22k views

Splitting of multiplets in ¹H NMR spectra?

I'm currently taking VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education) Chemistry classes, and we're currently studying the interpretation of spectra produced by Hydrogen NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) ...
35
votes
2answers
12k views

Is density functional theory an ab initio method?

The following comment by Wildcat made me think about whether density functional theory (DFT) can be considered an ab initio method. @Martin-マーチン, this is sort of nitpicking, but DFT (where the last ...
35
votes
2answers
28k views

What exactly is hydrogen bonding (and does it really need fluorine, oxygen, or nitrogen)?

I'm not satisfied with the rationale for the intermolecular attraction known as hydrogen bonding. In my book, it states that Hydrogen bonding is a special type of intermolecular attraction between ...
35
votes
1answer
61k views

Why is [PdCl4]2- square planar whereas [NiCl4]2- is tetrahedral?

The molecule $\ce{[PdCl4]^2-}$ is diamagnetic, which indicates a square planar geometry as all eight d electrons are paired in the lower-energy orbitals. However, $\ce{[NiCl4]^2-}$ is also $\mathrm{d^...
35
votes
3answers
21k views

What is actually the difference between valence bond theory and molecular orbital theory?

Recently I have read about both of the concepts in my book (Physical Chemistry by Atkins, Paula). It was literally a reading; though I could understand the language and superposition of orbitals, ...
35
votes
1answer
11k views

Why are there two Hydrogen atoms on some periodic tables?

Most periodic tables only feature one Hydrogen atom, on the top of the first group. But some, like the one I was given, also show Hydrogen in the 7th group, to left of Helium. Why are there two ...

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