We really don’t know that much yet..

In my advanced Chemistry classes I was thought that bases are substances that can donate electron pairs. Acids on the other hand, are substances that can accept them. Acids and bases where polar opposites. That was the law. Well, not anymore. I say that because of revelations like this one:

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Chemists at the University of California, Riverside have accomplished in the lab what until now was considered impossible: transform a family of compounds which are acids into bases.

As our chemistry lab sessions have taught us, acids are substances that taste sour and react with metals and bases (bases are the chemical opposite of acids). For example, compounds of the element boron are acidic while nitrogen and phosphorus compounds are basic.

The research, reported in the July 29 issue of Science, makes possible a vast array of chemical reactions – such as those used in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, manufacturing new materials, and research academic institutions.

“The result is totally counterintuitive,” said Guy Bertrand, a distinguished professor of chemistry, who led the research. “When I presented preliminary results from this research at a conference recently, the audience was incredulous, saying this was simply unachievable. But we have achieved it. We have transformed boron compounds into nitrogen-like compounds. In other words, we have made acids behave like bases.”

That is just f-ing unbelievable. Science doesn’t stand still. What’s golden today, may no longer be so tomorrow. It’s why I get seriously pissed at the settled science by consensus types. What’s next? Someone gonna figure out a way to reverse gravity?

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  1. Dave D

    Alex: this is sensationist at best. ANY acid will behave like a base in the presence of a STRONGER ACID. Hydroxide will DONATE a proton to hydride if they come in contact to generate hydrogen gas and an oxide, for example.

    Also, the way they “add” electrons to boron in this example, is by bonding the boron to electron donors, thus chemically changing the lone P orbital on the borons from empty to partially filled, hence it can become a ligand. Not that novel, IMO. Maybe noone has thought of this in the past, but it is amost obvious.

    I also laugh at the general statement that “phosphorous is toxic”. All of the lignin and membranes in your body contain phosphorous. Phosphorous ligands are usually not that hydrolyically or air-stable, so that may be what he is going for, but that is not the impression I get from the article. Seems more like “Phosphrous Bad” envirospeak, IMO.

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