Resident Evil, Uroboros and the benzene ring

The Ouroboros or Uroborus is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent eating its own tail. From the Greek meaning tail eater.

The Ouroboros is commonly used to represent self-reflexivity or cyclicality, and other psychobabble nonsense. But, for chemists, it has far greater, more truly physical relevance as it’s the metaphor Friedrich August KekulĂ© von Stradonitz used to sell his theory that the C6H6 molecule we know as benzene is in fact a ring.

Benzene is an aromatic molecule, which not only means it has an odour, but also that it has the property of aromaticity, which is stability conferred on it by the particular arrangement of the electrons that hold the carbons together in a ring. From tail-eating snakes to the present day benzene has intrigued chemists. It’s present as part of millions of molecules but we still do not fully understand its stability nor its reactions. A new study on which I reported for Chemistry Views recently takes us a step closer with a surprising result regarding that aromaticity…

Apparently, the name Uroborus also has relevance to players of the game Resident Evil 5, although I wouldn’t know. I never got the hang of Asteroids nor Space Invaders so haven’t spent a lot of time playing computer games…

Research Blogging IconBean, D., & Fowler, P. (2011). Effect on Ring Current of the Kekulé Vibration in Aromatic and Antiaromatic Rings The Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 115 (46), 13649-13656 DOI: 10.1021/jp2077424

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