Glossary of Basic Chemistry for Biology

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What is electronegativity?
a measure of the affinity ("stickiness") of an element for electrons
What is an ion?
a charged particle
What is ionization energy?
the amount of energy required to extract ("pull") an electron away from a given atom
What does polarity mean?
it describes the property of an object having two opposite sides
What is a polar molecule?
a molecule, which, due to an uneven distribution of electrons, has a partial positive pole and partial negative pole

a group of these molecules CAN be dissolved by water
Is water a polar or non-polar molecule?
What property of water makes it so important to biology?
What is a mixture?
a substance made up of two or more elements or compounds that are mixed together, but not chemically combined
What are the two components of any solution?
a solute and a solvent
What substance is considered the universal solvent? What property gives it that role?

What type of bonds keep water molecules tightly bound to one another?
hydrogen bonds
What is a solution?
a homogeneous mixture that contains two or more substances
How do you tell the difference between a solute and a solvent in a given solution?
solute is the minor component of a solution; solvent is the major component

(eg. water is the solvent in a solution of Kool-Aid powder and water)
What 2 properties define an acid?
a compound that releases hydrogen ions (H+ or protons) into solution; also absorbs electrons and OH- (hydroxide) ions
What 2 properties define a base?
a compound that releases OH- ions (hydroxide) or electrons; also absorbs hydrogen ions (H+ or protons)
What is a suspension?
a mixture of water and non-dissolved material; the motion of water molecules keep the particles from settling at the bottom of the container
What is compound?
a substance containing two or more elements
What is the smallest unit of a compound that still retains the property of that compound?
a molecule
What is an atom?
the smallest unit of an element that still retains the properties of that element
How do you define an element?
a substance that cannot be decomposed into simpler substances by chemical means
What is an organic compound?
a compound that contains carbon-carbon bonds and is mainly of biological origin
What is polymerization?
process by which large compounds are built by linking smaller compounds together
What are the 4 groups of organic molecules found in living things?
1. carbohydrates
2. lipids
3. proteins
4. nucleic acids
What is dehydration synthesis?
the joining of two molecules while losing a water molecule in the process
What are the building blocks of polysaccharides?
What are the building blocks of DNA and RNA?
What are the building blocks of proteins?
amino acids
What is hydrolysis?
the splitting of a covalent bond between 2 molecules by inserting a water molecule

(hydro = water; lysis = splitting)
What are the building blocks of lipids?
glycerol and fatty acids
What is a peptide bond?
the covalent bond between 2 amino acids
How are covalent bonds and ionic bonds different?
electrons are SHARED in covalent bonds, while electrons are SWAPPED to form ionic bonds
What is an enzyme?
a protein molecule that speeds up biochemical reactions by lower the activation energy
What is the activation energy of a reaction?
the energy that must be invested in order to trigger the reaction

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