Just for practice, I thought I’d try to make a simple molecule. So I went through my copy of Isaac Asimov’s The Genetic Code, and on page 40 was a diagram for isooctane that looked like this:
Hmm, I thought. That doesn’t look too hard. Then I tried to build it, and I immediately realized that the branching hydrogen atoms would clash unless they were turned in three dimensions. Like so:
So downright proud I was, until I looked at the picture in the wikipedia article for isooctane:
This was getting to be intimidating! So I went back to my model and tinkered some more, and got this:
Which looks a little like a dachshund with antlers on its back. And which probably is still not right as far as the precise branch angles are concerned.
It was not a headache to make this thing. It was actually kind of fun. But it did take a lot of work, which is not my intent here. I want to develop a system of making models which is so easy that anyone can do it after a few minutes watching videos on how to use Sketchup and then reading a brief set of instructions included in the 3D Warehouse file. And so far, such simplicity eludes me.
Anyhow, I’m closer to the real geometry than Asimov could ever possibly get on the printed page. It’s funny how I look back at these old books and realize how graphically limited they were. I didn’t think so at the time but it’s glaring now. I wonder what we’ll seem like a few years from now in a world that swims in photorealistic virtual reality. Probably very primitive!
As a side note, I checked Warehouse just now and couldn’t find isooctane or adenine. Maybe I should just upload my models. Of course, then I would be bombarded with criticisms: “No, you doof! Your branch angles are brain damaged!” My self-esteem is low enough that I don’t need to be told that.