Wiley InterScience Backfile Collection 1832-2000
Chemistry and Pharmacology
Since Pasteur's epochal discoveries a century and a half ago, the concept of chirality has continued to play a central role in chemistry and biochemistry. Can chirality be measured? It has long been known that molecular chirality can be given a quantitative meaning through functions specifically parametrized to match the magnitude of pseudoscalar observables. However, chirality is a property that is independent of its physical and chemical manifestations : for a system to be chiral, all that is required is the absence of improper rotations in the symmetry group of the system. This being the case, how can chirality be measured if the “system” is an abstract geometric figure, for example, a scalene triangle in the plane or an asymmetric tetrahedron in three-dimensional space? How does chirality vary as a function of pure shape? In this review we describe recent efforts designed to answer these and related questions.
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