What do left handed and right handed mean? Watch

Ggdf
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Report Thread starter 4 years ago
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Hi there

I keep coming across the terms 'left handed' and 'right-handed' to describe molecules such as DNA molecules and amino acids. I wonder what this means as I'm unable to find a good definition. Does right handed mean something to do with left to right, and left handed something to do with right to left? Is there a general definition that applies to both DNA molecules and amino acids? Or does a left handed (for example) amino acid mean something different in terms of orientation to a left handed DNA strand?

If anyone could help clarify this for me I would be very appreciative!

Thank you .
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Scienceteacher
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Wow that's a tricky one. What have you been reading? This is degree level stuff. Isn't this a GCSE forum?

OK...... handedness in amino acids refers to stereochemistry. If you've studied this (and you won't if you're studying GCSE since it comes in at Year 13 Chemistry), then you'll understand. All amino acids (apart from glycine) come in two forms. Stereochemistry refers to the way the atoms are attached to the central carbon. Stereochemistry is a big topic but it's fun so if you're interested, you might want to Google it and find out about it. Personally, I love stereochemistry.

Handedness in DNA refers to the direction that the helix takes. Imagine if you were looking DOWN the helix. If the helix turns anticlockwise then it's left handed and if it turns clockwise, then it's right handed. Again, degree level stuff.

But to answer your question, the idea of handedness in these two cases are totally different but both very interesting. Hope that helped.
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