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Chemical Crystal Digital Video Gallery

Chemical compounds can exist in three basic phases, gaseous, liquid, or solid. Gases consist of weakly bonded atoms and expand to fill any available space. Solids are characterized by strong atomic bonding and have a rigid shape. Most are crystalline, having a three-dimensional periodic atomic arrangement. Some, such as glass, lack this periodic arrangement and are noncrystalline, or amorphous. Liquids have characteristics that fall in between gases and solids. This cinemicrographic collection shows time-lapse movies of various chemical compounds as they change physical states.

Acetylcholine Chloride - Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for gated binding control of cation channels to allow inflow of sodium into muscle cells. This chloride salt of acetylcholine is a synthetic version of the central and peripheral neurotransmitter, but is used also as a vasodilator and cardiovascular agent. Available via prescription, acetylcholine chloride is used to keep eye pupils dilated during eye surgery and as a bathing solution for the eyes.

Ammonium Persulfate - Ammonium persulfate crystals are used as an alternative to traditional ferric chloride solutions for copper etching. The white crystals are soluble in water and decomposed by heat. The chemical industry uses ammonium persulfate to commercially produce other persulfate compounds and aniline dyes, while the organic synthetics industry utilizes the compound for initiating various polymerization processes.

N-bromosuccinimide - Used by the pharmaceutical and chemical industries as an intermediary, N-bromosuccinimide serves as an oxidizing agent in the synthesis of drugs and hormones. For isolating rare elements in the laboratory or on an industrial scale, N-bromosuccinimide is utilized as an extraction solvent.

Cholesteryl Acetate - For animals, cholesterol is essential to life, a primary component of the membrane that surrounds every cell. It is also the precursor chemical from which the body synthesizes bile acids, steroid hormones, and vitamin D derivatives. Cholesterol circulates in the bloodstream and is manufactured by the liver and several other organs.

Dideoxyinosine (DDI) - Didanosine is marketed in the United States and Canada under the trade name Videx. This nucleotide antagonist appears to help prevent the reproduction of the AIDS virus in infected patients whose health has deteriorated during treatment with AZT. Didanosine has been demonstrated to increase the number of CD4 helper white blood cells that are usually depressed in advanced stages of AIDS. Unfortunately, didanosine is known to produce some serious side effects including inflammation of the pancreas and painful nerve damage.

DDT - One of the most effective, if deadly, pesticides, this organochlorine insecticide is certainly the most historically significant, due to its effects on the environment, agriculture, and human health. Although banned in the United States and many other countries around the world since the 1970s, humans and animals in the United States are still exposed to DDT and its derivatives because it continues to be manufactured and applied in underdeveloped nations where some of North America's food supply is grown.

Laetrile - Originally marketed during the 1920s by the famous biochemist Forest T. Krebs, Laetrile is a very controversial treatment for cancer. Known to biochemists as amygdalin, Forest and his son Ernest named the compound vitamin B-17, even though metabolic needs and vitamin deficiencies when excluded from the human diet have never been demonstrated.

Niacinamide - Niacin (Vitamin B3) is more commonly known as nicotinamide in the biochemical community and plays an important role in the biosynthesis of pyridine nucleotides. This nitrogen heterocyclic biochemical is combined in vivo with the nucleotide adenosine to form nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which serves as a soluble electron carrier in biochemical reactions. Common sources of niacin include cheese, beans, milk, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, whole grains, and brewer's yeast. Clinically, niacin serves to maintain normal function of the digestive system, helps to reduce cholesterol levels, and serves to reduce dizziness and ringing in the ears.

Picolinic Acid - Picolinic acid is the body's prime natural chelator of the vital trace elements chromium, zinc, manganese, copper, iron, and molybdenum. Biosynthesized in the liver and kidneys from the amino acid tryptophan, and stored in the pancreas during digestion, picolinic acid is secreted into the intestine.

Piperazine - Piperazine is an anthelmintic drug used in the treatment of endoparasitic "worm" infestations in humans and domestic animals. As a cure for pinworms and common roundworms, piperazine paralyzes the parasites, allowing them to pass in the feces.

Piperidone - The piperidones are a family of organic chemicals characterized by a 6-carbon ring having a substituted nitrogen and a double-bonded oxygen atom. Utilized by pharmaceutical companies and chemical manufacturers as intermediates in production of other compounds, piperidones are named by the location of the nitrogen or amine group on the ring, and the position of any other side chains.

RU-486 (Mifepristone) - Dubbed the "French abortion pill" and the "month after pill", the pharmaceutical RU-486 was released to wide acceptance in Europe in 1988, but was delayed for licensing in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration until September 2000, because of political pressure against abortions. In France, where the drug was developed, about one-third of all abortions are performed using the synthetic steroidal hormone.

Contributing Authors

Omar Alvarado, Thomas J. Fellers and Michael W. Davidson - National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, 1800 East Paul Dirac Dr., The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, 32310.



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