Atomic and Molecular forces
While chemical bonds and chemical reactions are critical for the functioning of an organism, the longer range interaction forces between atoms and molecules also play a huge role in biology. For example, it is well known in biology that the shape of a molecule determines how it functions. A genetic change that changes a molecule's shape can change its function dramatically. A significant part of this is the electrical attraction between molecules. Let's consider a few questions about the interaction of molecules.
- If atoms are electrically neutral (with an equal number of protons and electrons in each atom), what makes them stick together to form molecules and larger structures?
- Conversely, if something makes atoms attract each other, what makes them stay some distance apart, instead of moving all the way together? Why don't molecules (and everything made of molecules) implode?
- How can we model this interaction quantitatively?
- And what does all of this have to do with energy?
For the answers, read the follow-on pages.
Ben Dreyfus and Joe Redish 11/15/11
Last Modified: February 25, 2019