Shapes of Organic Molecules
Many organic molecules have isomers. Isomers are defined as differently structured molecules that have the same formula. The formula C4H10 represents two very different molecules. This could be n-butane (normal butane), or it could be 2-methylpropane. These molecules, though they have the same number of the same atoms, are chemically very different. This is due to their different shapes.
The different structures of organic molecules greatly affect their chemical properties. When molecules are bent, there are more intermolecular forces that come into effect. These intermolecular forces include negative and positive attraction and repulsion among others.
Organic molecules are often thought of in terms of straight chains of atoms, for simplicity's sake. In truth, there are many straight chain organic molecules. Most organic molecules, however, come in all sorts of sizes and shapes and contain many odd angles. For polymers (long chains of hydrocarbons) with all single bonds, it is likely that they are in a straight chain. Once double bonds get into the picture, the molecules bend at different angles where the multiple bonds are found.
The fat found in natural butter is a straight chain molecule. In the body, these molecules can stack together and take up very little space in our arteries. The fat found in butter substitute, a man-made polymer, is bent where there is a double bond. These molecules do not stack together very well in our bodies and thus we are left with less room for our blood to get by. As we can see, the shapes and structures of organic molecules is important for us to understand. If more people were aware of the fact that butter substitutes are bad for their health, there might be fewer heart attack patients who think they were doing their bodies a favor by not eating real butter.