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The handedness of an asymmetric molecule.
(particle physics)
The characteristic of particles of spin ½ ℏ that are allowed to have only one spin state with respect to an axis of quantization parallel to the particle's momentum; if the particle's spin is always parallel to its momentum, it has positive chirality; antiparallel, negative chirality.
The characteristic of an object that cannot be superimposed upon its mirror image.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a concept in chemistry characterizing the property of nonsuperimposability of an object with its mirror image. It was first formulated in 1884 by Lord Kelvin (W. Thomson), but it gained common acceptance only after 1966, when it was introduced into stereochemistry by V. Prelog.

In addition to configuration and conformation, chirality is a basic concept of modern stereochemistry. A distinction is made between centric, axial, and planar chirality, to which chiral elements correspond: center, axis, and plane (see Figure 1). For enantiomorphic crystals and some types of molecules, the consideration of chiral space is worthwhile. A chiral center is a broader

Figure 1. Examples of molecules with different chiral elements: (a) center, (b) axis, (c) plane. A, B, C, and D represent different groupings of atoms.

concept than an asymmetric atom, since molecules exist in which the chiral centers do not coincide with any of their atoms. Planar chirality is characteristic of metallo-organic compounds, for example, π-complexes of olefins and arenes. Chirality is a necessary condition for natural molecular optical activity, since chiral objects exist as pairs of enantiomorphs.

The absence of chirality is indicated by the term “achirality.” Achiral molecules may demonstrate induced optical activity. A molecule is prochiral if it may be converted into a chiral molecule by the replacement of a single atom, for example, the replacement of a hydrogen atom in CH2BrCl by a fluorine atom. When chiral and prochiral fragments are combined in one molecule, the phenomenon of nuclear diastereotopy arises, which is observed in nuclear magnetic resonance spectra. The newest method of determining molecular chirality is based on this effect.


Sokolov, V. I. Novoe v stereokhimii. Moscow, 1975.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In 1768 Kant tried to solve the problem of incongruent counterparts by introducing absolute space as a "fundamental concept" in relation to which the hand would be determined as being either left or right.
Kant now explicitly calls the problem of incongruent counterparts a "paradox." And it is one that he nowhere claims to have solved.
It is a highly debated question what point and what doctrinal concept Kant had in mind when he wrote this note, but the Antinomy of Reason, as presented in the Transcendental Dialectic, seems a more likely candidate than the paradox of incongruent counterparts. Only in the former does Kant "seriously" try to prove both thesis and antithesis, whereas the argument he constructs with his hands clearly opts for one of two theses pertaining to the nature of space--the actuality of absolute space in 1768, and space as a form of intuition in 1770.
Distinguishing between geographical (i.e., "literal"(48)), mathematical, and logical orientation, Kant revises the status of incongruent counterparts, making the left-right distinction no longer an affair of intuition, but of a "feeling of a difference in my own subject, that is, in the right and left hands," thus returning to a formulation he used in 1768.(49) In severing the hand from intuition Kant prepares the analogy that will address the problem of the moral and religious "feeling" on which Jacobi's emotive theology is based.