Understanding what molecules look like, how they move, what relationships exist between atoms, are all challenging mental tasks. Here are two tools that might help.
- The Chairs app. $0.99 in the Apple Store. The app’s tutorial offers a compact onscreen lecture on cyclohexane ring flips, up-and-down relationships, axial-and-equatorial positions, and how all these are affected by a ring flip. Then you get to play the game! The game (which I demonstrated in class) consists of two drawings, one is a substituted cyclohexane, and the other is an unsubstituted flipped ring. Your job is to draw the missing substituents in the flipped ring as fast and as accurately as you can. It’s a good exercise in mental processing and it keeps you moving by gradually raising the difficulty of the problem. Best of all, you can probably master the game after 10-20 minutes of play and throw the app away.
- The Ring Flip Cyclohexane video by Fun Man Fung* (Singapore, o chem is everywhere!) gives an exceptionally clear description of chair cyclohexane and demonstration of how to “flip” the ring using a molecular model. Hint: build a cyclohexane model before you watch the video and use your model to imitate everything in the video. Cost: 4 minutes of your time. This is definitely worth checking out if you have questions in this area.
*Dr. (?) Fung has produced a number of chemistry web videos. I have only listened to one more, Meditation in Chemistry, and I just wish it were longer than 96 seconds. What beautiful music!