Why do we represent molecular structures as beautiful alveolus-like schemas and do they actually look like that ?

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Why do we represent molecular structures as beautiful alveolus-like schemas and do they actually look like that ?

In: Chemistry

On that scale, to say that something “looks” like anything is incorrect. We’re dealing with objects smaller than the wavelengths of visible light, so they don’t have color the way we think of it. Furthermore, they don’t really have a shape either, as objects behave like fuzzy clouds of here’s-where-it-might-be rather than solid “things” at that scale. Chemical bonds definitely don’t take the form of sticks connecting spheres either, they’re just electron clouds getting comfortable with each other.

However, the electron clouds are, roughly, spherical, when all is said and done, and these spheres do appear to be sticking together when we manage to image them individually. Any image of something that small is going to be a metaphor at best, but the metaphor isn’t a bad one.