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Can we predict a complex molecule's shape?

  1. Mar 30, 2008 #1
    I've recently learned that we can predict the shape of molecules with a small amount of atoms. Can the shape of a complex molecule with many atoms be predicted too?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 30, 2008 #2
    can you give me an example of what you mean by a complex molecule?

    theoretically you can, by analysing the lone pairs present, the number of bond pairs and using the electron repulsion theory.
  4. Mar 30, 2008 #3
    By complex, I mean that there are a lot of atomic parts. Water is a simple molecule. Methane is a simple molecule. A complex molecule would be something like glucose. An amino acid is even more complex. And a simple protein is even more complex. Can we predict a protein's shape by knowing the bonding of atoms and electron repulsion? I know there isn't just one shape to each molecule, but can the possible shapes be predicted?
  5. Mar 30, 2008 #4


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  6. Mar 30, 2008 #5


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    Most of the biggest supercomputing clusters in the world are dedicated to protein folding computations.
  7. Mar 30, 2008 #6
    proteins are very complex molecules. but i think it would not be impossible to predict the molecular shape of glucose or an amino acid. you just have to start systematically, say from one of the Carbon atoms, and proceed then with the other bonds. These molecules do not have too many atoms.
  8. Mar 30, 2008 #7
    like DaleSpam said, most of the supercomputing clusters in the world are dedicated to this field. Also since the PS3 was released, there has been a new program also released that allows anyone who wishes to participate in giving even more power. Basically you install it on your PS3, and then scientists from across the world can use the power to add even more computational solving power.

    But as far as my knowledge goes into this topic, it takes a very long time in determining the basic structure of a basic complex protein. Which is why scientists are hoping that with the discovery of quantum computing this will be made easier. But I doubt we will see that anytime soon.
  9. Mar 31, 2008 #8


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    Yes, it's done all the time with computer modelling in Molecular chemistry/Biochemistry and Toxicology to predict molecular interractions with receptors on cells, enzyme active sites etc..

    Even at Uni in the 80s, in biochemistry we were watching videos showing the construction of a 3d model of the enzyme Lysozyme and well as Insulin, Haemoglobin and DNA.
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