Why Some Molecules Have Evil Twins
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Why Some Molecules Have Evil Twins


This is the chemical formula for the active
ingredient in a common, over-the-counter nasal decongestant. And this is the chemical formula for an extremely
dangerous street drug. They have the same boiling point, the same
molecular mass, and are made up of the exact same elements, in almost the exact same structure. These two chemicals are mirror images known
as enantiomers. They’re sort of like your left and right
hands – if your right hand was evil. And for the same reason your right hand only
fits into a right-handed glove and your left hand only fits into a left-handed glove, each
enantiomer fits only into its corresponding receptor. When the receptors for the nasal spray molecules
are activated, they send out a neurotransmission that helps open the nasal passages. But when the receptors for the street drug
molecules get filled, the resulting neurotransmissions cause a spurt of euphoria and aphrodisia in
the near term, and addiction and brain damage in the long term. Thousands of other molecules also have left-
and right-handed versions. Right-handed penicillamine binds to toxic
heavy metals in the bloodstream and lets you pee them out. On the other hand, left-handed penicillamine
is incredibly toxic itself since it blocks the body’s ability to use Vitamin B6 and
causes your brain to malfunction. Left-handed carvone makes things smell like
mint. Right-handed carvone makes things smell like
licorice. Despite mirror molecules’ incredibly similar
structures, you can’t just easily convert one into the other. To turn nasal spray into meth, you’d need
to first break its very strong covalent bonds, and that requires dangerous reagents and expensive,
high-pressure lab equipment. But the dark corners of the internet are filled
with descriptions of people trying – and miserably failing – to get meth – and its resulting
high – from nasal sprays. Companies that produce those sprays have even
changed the name of the active ingredient on the package to try to discourage these
would-be Walter Whites who can’t get their chemistry … right. Hi, it’s Kate! For a behind the scenes look at how this video
was made, check out the link in the video description. And if you’re a fan of enantiomers, chemistry,
or science in general and want to stand up for the future of science, consider taking
to the streets on April 22 at one of the many Marches for Science around the world. Or, if you prefer, you can make your voice
heard in other ways. Whatever you decide to do, we appreciate your
help making the world a welcoming place for curious people.

100 thoughts on “Why Some Molecules Have Evil Twins

  1. I love πŸ”¬ πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬πŸ”¬

  2. I love science!!!!!!!!!πŸπŸ•·πŸ πŸ›πŸ¦‚πŸŸπŸŒπŸ¦€πŸ‘πŸžπŸπŸ¬πŸœπŸ’πŸ³πŸŒŽπŸŒπŸ„πŸ„πŸ„πŸ„πŸ„πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

  3. Good twin molecules:oh look a fruit im gonna go there lalalaa
    Good twin molecules:*gasp*
    Evil twin molecules:hello
    Good twin molecules:who are you!!!
    Evil twin molecules:I am your twin brother!!
    dun dun dun

  4. Some dude: hey *{€|+{'e can you flip this nasal spray for me?

    *€|+{'e (a forth dimensioner): no.

    Some dude: come on!

    *€|+{'e: I'm not a moron. You want meth I'm from the forth dimension and can flip things in the third. So leave me alone before I tell your police force

    Some dude: I hate you.

    *€|{+'e: I can see why.

  5. β€œYour right hand only fits into a right handed glove”
    A right hand can fit into a backwards left handed glove ._. No seriously turn your left handed glove upside down and try to fit it onto your right hand.

  6. Mostly a great video, but one thing missing: these mirror-image molecules are only distinct when a carbon has four bonds attached to it, because this creates a non-flat structure that cannot just be flipped over to make it match its mirror image; flat structures are not chiral, as they can be simply flipped over.

  7. nasal spray still tests positive in meth tests tho so you can be real cruel and pour nasal spray on a bag of salt in and sneak it in someone going into australia!!

  8. well how aboout you take apart that nasal spray and take a bite of that cotton…. Youll be high on meth lmao its so similar in structure it should be illegal.

  9. good this molocules arn't 3d then they wouldn't be able to flip around and accidently change from nasal spray to meth evil, oh wait.

    uh oh

  10. Why everything seem to come in pair.
    A male a female.
    A pros a cons(almost anything).
    A matter a anti matter.
    Now the same thing except mirror of each other.

    Actually arr u sure they have the same structure???

  11. The worst example of this was thalidomide. The intended molecule was a very effective treatment for morning sickness, but its chiral counterpart caused the unborn child to develop deformities. It's the textbook example as to why drugs have to be so pure, and racemic (mixture of enantiomers) doses are usually unacceptable.

  12. Just brominate with NBS and use E2 base elimination, followed by H2/pdc. You'll get a 50% yield of meth over the nasal spray. That's prob better than most meth labs

  13. This just has me wondering how chemists manage to synthesize the right isomer, instead of just coming up with scary death soup with every possible isomer of a compound every single synthesis. Or for that matter, why our livers don't turn ethanol into methyl formate. I guess I should say thanks for getting me curious about another subject.

    I'm sure if some actual chemist reads this comment, they'll roll their eyes, but at least they'll get some eye exercise out of it.

  14. Dextromethamphetamine isn’t β€œEvil”, it’s a godsend for treatment resistant ADHD and narcolepsy, especially for people who can’t handle the β€œtweaker Effect”, aka the body load of the lesser amphetamines.

  15. Real quick if u turn a glove upside down it would go on ur other hand
    Which reminds me of you had right hand scissors u turn them over it won't work in ur left hand but if u don't it works fine

  16. No such thing as evil in nature, only malice (which itself is rare, only commonly appearing in cats and humans) and inefficient actions.

  17. So I can get meth if I go to the 4th dimension and take the nasal with me and flip it and bring it back? Thx MinuteEarth

  18. [Woah….I don’t think the nasal spray that guy off the street gave me was nasal spray…]

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