General Question

delirium's avatar

When it comes to images of the molecular structure of serotonin, which of these is more accurate?

Asked by delirium (13691points) May 19th, 2008

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Serotonin_biosynthesis.svg (look down in the diagram where the Serotonin is.
http://www.chemicalforums.com/organics/Serotonin.JPG

This is for a potential tattoo on the back of my neck, so I’m being picky.
Nikipedia, i’m particularly interested in your response.

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8 Answers

richardhenry's avatar

There isn’t a fundamental difference between the two (they both represent exactly the same thing), just that the version on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Serotonin_biosynthesis.svg) has been set and drawn more cleanly and they didn’t break “NH” into two lines.

8lightminutesaway's avatar

well neither is more accurate, they are exactly the same. The difference in the left ring just shows the resonance of the double bonds, the difference in the NH2 angle on the right just shows that the NC bond can rotate freely because it is a sigma bond.

nikipedia's avatar

As stated above, they are identical. Keep in mind that “accuracy” is not always a priority when drawing chemists draw organic structures, though. These models are more about simplicity and following conventions.

I’ve been toying with the idea of a space filling model instead, or some kind of isosurface….

delirium's avatar

Oooh, the space filling model is gorgeous.

Personally i’m addicted to the fine-clean-lines look to things right now.

@all: Thank you so much! I am excited and intrigued (although relatively ignorant about chemistry. [I swear, I make up for it in skeletal morphology/taphonomy])

nikipedia's avatar

I like the clean lines too. Mostly I dislike having letters standing in for molecules so I was also considering having different colored lines to represent bonds to different molecules—like red for C-N bonds, blue for C-O bonds, etc.

Also, see the six-membered ring on the left of the structures? It’s an important organic molecule called benzene. (I especially like the story of how Kekule discovered the ring structure.)

See how there are three double lines and three single lines? This is because there are sort of three double-bonds, but that double-bond nature is actually shared equally across the entire ring. So some chemists prefer to represent it as a circle. I personally think this is a much better representation and will definitely include it that way in my final product.

delirium's avatar

Color would be really neat looking. Pick your colors wisely, though. Doing primaries could look really cool… but i’m not sure that yellow would show up well enough. Secondary colors would probably work, though.

**Enjoys absorbing your molecular knowledge. ;)** I was never a very good chem student, sadly. Lab reports filled with math are a bit of a turn off for me. Its either too in depth for the topic, or not enough (In highschool, at least). I’ve been hiding from chem ever since. I’ll be doing mostly biological science courses anyways.
I like the art aspect of it (chem) quite a bit though, and find communication through images to be intriguing, particularly when it has its own dialect… of sorts….

nikipedia's avatar

Good call on the yellow. Will try to sketch out what I’m thinking and send it to you.

O chem is almost completely devoid of math—it’s a lot more intuitive than gen chem, I found. But there are different ways to do it. Some people try to get through it with brute force by memorizing hundreds of mechanisms and structures. On the other hand, if you memorize and really understand a couple basic rules you can predict the behavior of most organic molecules. It’s a really lovely, elegant field that has a lousy reputation, which is why I get all teachy/preachy about it. :)

8lightminutesaway's avatar

@ nikipedia.. agreed! ochem is much more fun/interesting than gen chem and i try to tell people its not as bad as others say it is.

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