Tuesday 17 July 2018

Instagram account managed by a chemistry student is here to show you what molecules look like

Find our what caffeine and aspirin molecules look like.

Molecule of the day.
Molecule of the day.

By Nilima Marshall, Press Association

You may probably take an aspirin when you have a headache but do you know what its molecules actually look like?

Well, look no further than this Instagram account created by a student in Singapore who wants you to get “your daily dose of chemistry” by checking out his “a molecule a day” page.

Matthew Ng, a 17-year-old college student, uses special building kits to show the molecular structures of all chemicals, ranging from pills such as ibuprofen and aspirin to the neurotransmitters present in the brain such as dopamine and serotonin.

He said: “I first started making and posting them on 25 August 2017. Since then I have been posting a molecule every day.”

Matthew was inspired by his chemistry teacher who often uses building kits to help students visualise the molecular structures of chemicals.

He said: “We find it really useful. My classmates and I love to tinker with these sets to build all sorts of molecules.

“Seeing how fascinated we were with these molecule building sets, she gave two of us molecule building kits.”

Wanting to use the kit in a meaningful way, Matthew turned to Instagram to showcase his work.

He said: “Since I loved chemistry a lot, but not everyone shares the same passion, I thought it would be cool if I could showcase the aesthetic beauty of chemistry to thousands of people all over the globe.

“This was when the idea popped in my mind to build a different molecule every day and post in on Instagram.”

Matthew also takes suggestions from his followers about the molecules they would like to see on his Instagram feed.

His posts, which include anything from hormones and food additives to medicine and drugs, are accompanied by a caption that explains what the chemicals are.

But there are a few that he is particularly fond of.

He said: “My favourite one was definitely one of the first few molecules that I posted, which was the Nanokid, purely because its molecular structure looks like a human!

“This, along with Phycocyanobilin, a blue pigment found in algae, were also the most challenging ones to build due to the large number of atoms and complicated structure.”

Matthew’s user base has been growing, almost six months after his first post.

He said: “Initial growth was slow, probably due to the academic nature of this page, but I’m really glad that this page has been discovered by so many people and growing at an increasing rate.

“Every now and then, people drop nice comments that really motivates me to continue maintaining this page. My follower count is just over 3,000 now, and increasing exponentially!”

Press Association

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