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Thread: What are the largest/complex molecules by environment type?

  1. #1 What are the largest/complex molecules by environment type? 
    Forum Cosmic Wizard icewendigo's Avatar
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    Although a star is suited to fuse atoms into larger atoms, I am assuming that it is "too hot" for large molecules of atoms to form, is this right?

    How about in the molten magma/lava beneath the earths crust? What's the largest molecules that get formed in there?

    I assume that solids like rocks, dont form that much large molecules, in the sense that the molecules in a rock mostly formed in the magma(I dont know) and that others result from the interaction with air and liquids (to a greater extend than rock on rock)

    Are liquids without life (which muddies the water for what I wish to learn), like water or methane lakes, more likely to have eventual formations of larger molecules (than gaseous or solid environments)?


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    Forum Sophomore Eleven11's Avatar
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    Tree-like giant is largest molecule ever made - physics-math - 07 January 2011 - New Scientist

    Largest SYNTHETIC molecule. I don't know if a DNA is larger.

    Likely most or all of the largest molecules are organic.


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  4. #3  
    exchemist
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    Quote Originally Posted by icewendigo View Post
    Although a star is suited to fuse atoms into larger atoms, I am assuming that it is "too hot" for large molecules of atoms to form, is this right?

    How about in the molten magma/lava beneath the earths crust? What's the largest molecules that get formed in there?

    I assume that solids like rocks, dont form that much large molecules, in the sense that the molecules in a rock mostly formed in the magma(I dont know) and that others result from the interaction with air and liquids (to a greater extend than rock on rock)

    Are liquids without life (which muddies the water for what I wish to learn), like water or methane lakes, more likely to have eventual formations of larger molecules (than gaseous or solid environments)?
    I'm sure you're right about stars - the temperatures are so high that atoms get ionized, even. So outer shell electrons in covalent bonds between atoms would not last long in that configuration. Although no doubt there is a radius, in the top of a star's atmosphere somewhere, beyond which very simple molecules may exist.

    Re magma and rocks, most rocks have lattice, rather than molecular, structures, so there are not that many discrete molecules around. However there will be exceptions, such as dissolved or entrained gases such as water, carbon dioxide and so on. I suppose there may be forms of elemental sulphur with multiple atoms chained together (sulphur has numerous allotropes and is found in volcanic systems, but I don't know which ones are stable at the prevailing temperatures and pressures in a magma - one would expect ones with relatively few atoms). Carbon of course can form diamond, but again that is a lattice, rather than molecular, structure.
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    Forum Professor jrmonroe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eleven11 View Post
    Tree-like giant is largest molecule ever made - physics-math - 07 January 2011 - New Scientist

    Largest SYNTHETIC molecule. I don't know if a DNA is larger.

    Likely most or all of the largest molecules are organic.
    Very interesting. This triggered me to thinking about a molecule so large and complex that it is "alive" capable of meeting all the criteria of life. The topic deserves its own thread.
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    Quote Originally Posted by icewendigo View Post
    Are liquids without life (which muddies the water for what I wish to learn), like water or methane lakes, more likely to have eventual formations of larger molecules (than gaseous or solid environments)?
    Yes, I think they are. A solid is not a good place within which to bring together molecules for reactions, due to its immobility and impermeability. A gas does not have these drawbacks but on the other hand, larger molecules are likely to condense from the gas and cease to participate in further reactions. Lastly, reactions in solution offer a way to dissipate surplus energy after bond formation, before the bond breaks apart again, allowing a higher chance of a large molecule forming and persisting without decomposing again.

    But we do also find that reactions can tale place on the SURFACE of a solid, which can convey some of the advantages of mobility and carrying away of energy that a liquid can do. So I think I'd say liquids and solid surfaces are the most fertile grounds for large molecules to form.
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