Unsolved Problems in Chemistry

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Solving the Unknowns in Chemistry

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Unsolved problems in chemistry tend to be ("can we make X compound") or solved rather quickly, but here are some persistent questions with deep implications:

Solvolysis of the norbornyl cation
Why is the norbornyl cation so stable? Is it symmetrical? This problem has been largely settled for the unsubstituted norbornyl cation, but not for the substituted cation.

On-water reactions
Why are some organic reactions accelerated at the water-organic interface?
Better-than perfect enzymes Why do some enzymes exhibit faster-than-diffusion kinetics?

Feynmanium
What are the chemical consequences of having an element (137) whose electrons must travel faster than the speed of light?

Chemical transformation traversal
Is it practical to generate a database of chemical transformations and derive synthetic routes to any arbitrary compound?

Protein folding problem
Is it possible to predict the secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure of a polypeptide sequence based solely on the sequence, and environmental information?

Inverse protein-folding problem
Is it possible to design a polypeptide sequence which will adopt a given structure under certain environmental conditions?

What is the origin of homochirality?

Do sterics (electronic repulsion) or electronics (electronic polarization) have a greater effect on chiral induction in stereospecific and stereoselective chemical reactions?

Why do aromatic hydrocarbon solvents have second-order effects on the action of organolithium compounds?

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