Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Drink, Drank, Drunk!

Most people who are reading this are familiar with wine, and for good reason --> like, when studying for Organic Chemistry tests/other challenging subjects!  As you may or may not know, alcohol is one of the oldest forms of currency and has therefore been studied quite extensively.  It should also come as no surprise that Tartaric Acid (found in grapes, bananas, and tamarinds), was how the discovery of chirality came to pass.
In ~800AD; the alchemist, Hayyan, was able to produce a rough product called 'tartar'.  'Tartar', is still used today in many industries like, beer, food, medicine, etc.  It was in 1832, that Jean Baptiste Biot observed that light rotates when polarized light was exposed to it.  This observation lead to Louis Pasteur taking it one step further and examining the phenomenon under the microscope, thereby helping us to not just observe chirality for the first time, but also to find new ways to apply this new found knowledge.  
The concept of chirality is extremely important when looking at one of today's biggest industries, drugs.  Many of the drugs that have been studied/developed/perfected over time have been developed as chiral compounds because the receptors in the human body are chiral, example being the psychiatric drugs.  It is now my hope that the next time you open a bottle of wine, that you will think about all the advancements that we have made as a result of studying alcohol - just don't study too hard or you may have to worship the porcelain god.  

(I tried to draw this in the paint program for better steriochemistry, but I wasn't able to paste it... soooo Wikipedia's pictures will have to suffice)


  1. This blog is amazing. I like how you incorporated tangible food items like wine and fruits into this blog about tartaric acid. Tartaric acid's chirality affects the human body greatly and that is something I need to keep in mind. Hopefully in future research, tartaric acid can be use to treat other diseases that require high chiral properties.

  2. This is awesome. I wonder if they were drinking wine when they discovered chirality.

  3. Interesting topic about wine; I would like to do more research into this