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Unsolved problems in chemistry
Unsolved problems in chemistry tend to be questions of the kind "Can we make the X chemical compound?" and are solved rather quickly, but here are some persistent questions with deep implications:
* Solvolysis of the norbornyl cation: Why is the norbornyl cation so stable? Is it symmetrical? This problem has been largely settled for the unsubstituted norbornyl cation, but not for the substituted cation.
* On-water reactions: Why are some organic reactions accelerated at the water-organic interface?
* Better-than perfect enzymes: Why do some enzymes exhibit faster-than-diffusion kinetics? See: Enzyme kinetics.
* Feynmanium: What are the chemical consequences of having an element (137) whose electrons must travel faster than the speed of light? Problem actually occurs at Element 139 (eka-actinium/dvi-lanthanum), since â€œA complete analysis involving relativity reduces the speed of electrons, therefore allowing stable 1s orbits in the element 138 (Uto).â€
* Protein folding problem: Is it possible to predict the secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure of a polypeptide sequence based solely on the sequence, and environmental information? Inverse protein-folding problem: Is it possible to design a polypeptide sequence which will adopt a given structure under certain environmental conditions?
* What is the origin of homochirality in amino acids and sugars?
* Do sterics (electronic repulsion) or electronics (electronic polarization) have a greater effect on chiral induction in stereospecific and stereoselective chemical reactions?
* How can electromagnetic energy (photons) be efficiently converted to chemical energy? (E.g. splitting of water to H2 and O using solar energy.)
* What are the chemical origins of life? How did non-living chemical compounds generate self-replicating, complex life forms?
* How does the flow of elements, energy, and electrons (oxidation states) drive the structure of local and global ecosystems?
* What is the origin of the bond rotation barrier in ethane, steric hindrance or hyperconjugation?