• Chirality


    • Chirality /kˈrælɪt/ is a property of asymmetry important in several branches of science. The word chirality is derived from the Greek, χειρ (kheir), "hand", a familiar chiral object.

      An object or a system is chiral if it is distinguishable from its mirror image; that is, it cannot be onto it. Conversely, a mirror image of an achiral object, such as a sphere, cannot be distinguished from the object. A chiral object and its mirror image are called enantiomorphs (Greek, "opposite forms") or, when referring to molecules, enantiomers. A non-chiral object is called achiral (sometimes also amphichiral) and can be superposed on its mirror image. If the object is non-chiral and is imagined as being colored blue and its mirror image is imagined as colored yellow, then by a series of rotations and translations the two can be superposed producing green with none of the original colors remaining.

      The term was first used by Lord Kelvin in 1893 in the second Robert Boyle Lecture at the Oxford University Junior Scientific Club which was published in 1894:

      I call any geometrical figure, or group of points, 'chiral', and say that it has chirality if its image in a plane mirror, ideally realized, cannot be brought to coincide with itself.

      Human hands are perhaps the most universally recognized example of chirality. The left hand is a non-superimposable mirror image of the right hand; no matter how the two hands are oriented, it is impossible for all the major features of both hands to coincide across all axes. This difference in symmetry becomes obvious if someone attempts to shake the right hand of a person using their left hand, or if a left-handed glove is placed on a right hand. In mathematics, chirality is the property of a figure that is not identical to its mirror image.

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    • Chirality