Thursday, September 16, 2010

Get the Picture: The Path of Life

For the visual learners out there I have tried to draw the Glycine amino acid. The picture to the right shows that the molecule is held together by our strong carbon atom (C) which has four carbon bonds. Up top is another carbon (C) with two oxygen atoms (O) attached written as COO- which is called the carboxyl group. This carbon atom also has four bonds, with each oxygen sharing a double bond with the carbon atom. To the left is the nitrogen (N) atom surrounded by three hydrogen atoms. Adding nitrogen to the molecule makes it an amino acid and carries the positive charge +. The other two carbon (C) bonds in the middle carbon are bound by additional hydrogen atoms. Remember, this is the simplest amino acid. There are nineteen others each more complicated. It is a good thing that over the last million or so years the human DNA has selected only four amino acids to direct the path of life.

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