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October 8, 2013
36 Basic Types of Reactions?
Does anyone know what the MIT Press Office is getting at with this intro?
In all the centuries that humans have studied chemical reactions, just 36 basic types of reactions have been found. Now, thanks to the work of researchers at MIT and the University of Minnesota, a 37th type of reaction can be added to the list.
I don't think I've ever heard of any scheme quite like that. Looking over the paper itself, it's an interesting piece of computational work on low-temperature oxidation pathways. It shows that gamma-keto hydroperoxides (as had been hypothesized) can form a cyclic peroxide intermediate, which then fragments into a carboxylic acid and an aldehyde. This would seem to clear up some discrepancies in the production of COOH compounds in several oxidation and combustion pathways, where they show up much more often than theory predicts.
And that's all fine, but what's this 36 reaction business? It appears nowhere in the paper, which makes me wonder if someone who worked on the press release got something tangled up. Or is there some classification scheme that I haven't heard of?
(Noted on the "Ask Science" section of Reddit), where a baffled reader of the press release tried to find out what was going on).
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