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Author Topic: Is liquid methane an organic solvent?  (Read 12590 times)

Offline Eric A. Taylor

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« on: 13/10/2010 12:21:54 »
I've heard it said that liquid methane on Titan is what water is on Earth. One thing that water on Earth does is act as an organic solvent. Without a solvent life is not possible, So while liquid methane on Titan rains, forms lakes and rivers and erodes the landscape it would need to be an organic solvent to support life.

If intelligent life developed on Titan would they never believe that there is life on Earth? After all, they would look to our planet and see a world so hot as to be covered in melted rock, even having quite a lot of rock vapor in the air. They would be very surprised to learn that the creatures on Earth depend on the liquid rock for our own lives. They may even now be hotly debating the origin of the strange thing that fell from the sky not long ago.

From space the surface of Titan can not be seen. From the surface can stars, the sun and Saturn be seen?


 

Offline Bored chemist

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #1 on: 13/10/2010 21:23:36 »
Liquid methane is an organic solvent.
Water isn't, so you seem to have got muddled there.
 

Offline Eric A. Taylor

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #2 on: 14/10/2010 05:21:31 »
Not sure you're really a chemist. Water itself is not organic, but organic compounds dissolve readily in water making it an organic solvent.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #3 on: 14/10/2010 06:57:51 »
Not sure you're really a chemist. Water itself is not organic, but organic compounds dissolve readily in water making it an organic solvent.
Bollocks.
What solvent, by that definition, is not organic?
Also I'd like to see this water in which, for examples of organic compounds, cooking oil or paraffin wax, dissolve readily.

 

Offline Soul Surfer

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #4 on: 14/10/2010 12:57:56 »
You are both right and both wrong in some respects let me try to explain.  Water and methane are very different sorts of solvents and have very different effects and this may be significant if you are considering a form of organic life based on methane as a solvent.

The particular feature of water that is very important that as well as being a basic solvent in which some things can dissolve.  water is also an ionising solvent in which some ionic bonded substances (like salt) can dissolve.

You are familiar with the way that a detergent can persuade greases and oils to "dissolve" when washing.  This uses the ionising properties of water to dissolve a substance that can also "dissolve the grease in part of the molecule.  This sort of process is essential in forming the cell walls of living organisms and a similar sort of process would be needed in a living thing.

This results in a very interesting thought  "is water soluble in liquid methane?  if it is it may be possible to have the sort of reverse process where the "rock" (water) is dissolved and mobilised to make liquid methane based life forms!
« Last Edit: 14/10/2010 12:59:37 by Soul Surfer »
 

Offline maffsolo

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #5 on: 14/10/2010 16:02:48 »
"Inorganic chemistry is the branch of chemistry concerned with the properties and behavior of inorganic compounds. This field covers all chemical compounds except the myriad organic compounds (carbon based compounds, usually containing C-H bonds), which are the subjects of organic chemistry.

The distinction between the two disciplines is far from absolute, and there is much overlap, most importantly in the sub-discipline of organometallic chemistry."
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #6 on: 14/10/2010 19:19:26 »
While there are blurred distinctions in places, water is not organic and therefore cannot be an organic anything. In particular it cannot be an organic solvent.

There's no wriggle-room in that; it just is not an organic solvent. Never has been and never will be.

When someone shows the the carbon atom in H2O I will accept that I was wrong.

As I said, with Eric's definition, all solvents are organic solvents so the term is meaningless. Also his basis for considering it to be an organic solvent is bizarre unless he can show me some saturated hydrocarbons that "dissolve readily in water"

"The distinction between the two disciplines is far from absolute, and there is much overlap, most importantly in the sub-discipline of organometallic chemistry."
About which, we were not talking.
 

Offline Soul Surfer

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #7 on: 15/10/2010 17:54:01 »
At the moment you are carrying out a pointless argument about a minor matter of the wording of the question and ignoring what the questioner really wanted to discuss.  Come on get your minds in gear do you think there is any chance of a cold planet lifeform based on liquid hydrocarbon gases in the presence of energy flow and plenty of other materials like water?
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #8 on: 15/10/2010 18:20:34 »
Well, that's easy. We sent a probe to Titan; no life.
The rest of the original question was hopelessly muddled up.
 

Offline lightarrow

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #9 on: 15/10/2010 18:39:18 »
Not sure you're really a chemist. Water itself is not organic, but organic compounds dissolve readily in water making it an organic solvent.
Water *is not* an organic solvent, by definition. If then *just a few* organic compounds dissolves in water, it's another story.
 

Offline lightarrow

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #10 on: 15/10/2010 18:44:01 »
The particular feature of water that is very important that as well as being a basic solvent in which some things can dissolve. 
What do you mean with "basic solvent"? Water is not basic, in case it's amphoteric.
 

Offline Soul Surfer

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #11 on: 15/10/2010 18:50:28 »
BC,  We did not look for it! and we would not know what to look for if we wanted to.  I am not suggesting little green men nor anything like this but a basic microscopic self replicating cell like the very simplest bacteria.   This is what most of the life on other planets in our universe will be because even the most basic muticellular creatures have only been around on the earth for a fraction of the time that bacteria have.

LA it is you who are being pedantic now! I never meant basic in a chemical sense just that some non ionic compounds (including organic ones) are soluble in or miscible with water.  stop picking a fight.
« Last Edit: 15/10/2010 18:55:03 by Soul Surfer »
 

Offline lightarrow

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #12 on: 15/10/2010 20:19:03 »
LA it is you who are being pedantic now! I never meant basic in a chemical sense just that some non ionic compounds (including organic ones) are soluble in or miscible with water.  stop picking a fight.
Sorry, I hadn't understood it :)
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #13 on: 16/10/2010 13:06:03 »
Soul Surfer, In that case it's not going to be remotely possible to answer questions about alien life except by saying "we don't know".

I think this is what happens when the original question doesn't make any sense; you get lots of muddled replies.

Whatever the original post was about, I'm still waiting for Eric to explain why he thinks oil and wax are freely soluble in water and why that belief is grounds to think I might not be a real chemist.
Of course, he might decide to apologise for the ad hom attack instead.
 

Offline Soul Surfer

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #14 on: 16/10/2010 22:30:30 »
BC  Eric never said that oil and wax are soluble in water all he said was that water was an important solvent and part of (organic) living things.  You are reading too much into his words.  Remember questioners on these pages often have a less than perfect grasp of technical terms.  You made exactly the same mistake when you misinterpreted what I said.
 

Offline maffsolo

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #15 on: 16/10/2010 22:45:23 »
That is the reason in introduced this subject because it was not part of the conversation nor the question BC

"The distinction between the two disciplines is far from absolute, and there is much overlap, most importantly in the sub-discipline of organometallic chemistry."
About which, we were not talking.

"why that belief is grounds to think I might not be a real chemist."
No disrespect BC I couldn't tell if you are a man or a woman???? Don't be offended it is just a forum of good taste.
« Last Edit: 16/10/2010 22:50:32 by maffsolo »
 

Offline tommya300

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #16 on: 17/10/2010 00:18:09 »
I've heard it said that liquid methane on Titan is what water is on Earth. One thing that water on Earth does is act as an organic solvent. Without a solvent life is not possible, So while liquid methane on Titan rains, forms lakes and rivers and erodes the landscape it would need to be an organic solvent to support life.

If intelligent life developed on Titan would they never believe that there is life on Earth? After all, they would look to our planet and see a world so hot as to be covered in melted rock, even having quite a lot of rock vapor in the air. They would be very surprised to learn that the creatures on Earth depend on the liquid rock for our own lives. They may even now be hotly debating the origin of the strange thing that fell from the sky not long ago.

From space the surface of Titan can not be seen. From the surface can stars, the sun and Saturn be seen?


The abundance of methane on Titan is equivlent to the abundance of water is on earth.
Water here on earth is an important substance that helps sustain life, more like a nutritional transporter of sorts.

I interpret that Eric asked, since Titan's environment being so hostel to earth type life, can some other form of life exist under those extreme conditions?

BC abruptly answered, "Well, that's easy. We sent a probe to Titan; no life.
The rest of the original question was hopelessly muddled up."

One probe one answer?
I have been reading some of your posts BC and have learned allot.
You are very intelligent, but lack social grace.
You are ready to set someone up just to shoot them down.
 It is a forum not a legal inquisition.

 
« Last Edit: 17/10/2010 00:36:29 by tommya300 »
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #17 on: 17/10/2010 10:09:31 »
"BC  Eric never said that oil and wax are soluble in water"
What he said was
"organic compounds dissolve readily in water making it an organic solvent."
which is wrong on two counts.
Archetypal organic compounds like oil and wax don't dissolve in water.
The definition of an organic solvent is not something that dissolves organic materials.

Re "Remember questioners on these pages often have a less than perfect grasp of technical terms. "
I'm well aware of that; I pointed it out in the second post in this thread.

"why that belief is grounds to think I might not be a real chemist."
No disrespect BC I couldn't tell if you are a man or a woman???? "
So what?
There is little evidence here of my gender; however there is plenty of evidence that I know about chemistry- for example I know water isn't organic, nor does it dissolve a lot of organic things.

Since the rest of the original question depended on it being organic and dissolving organic things, it was hopelessly muddled.
The field of organometallic chemistry knows exactly what's organic and what isn't. If it's organometallic then it's organic- otherwise it's not organometallic. The clue is in the name.
There are compounds where the distinction is a bit vague- for example are formates or trichloroacetates organic? It depends on the definition you chose. No definition will label water as organic- it has none of the properties needed; most importantly, it has no carbon.

I didn't set Eric up; he set himself up. A spot of research would have let him know what an organic solvent is.

I may lack social grace, but I'm not nearly as harsh as reality.
If you make an assumption that is incorrect, reality will not politely explain things to you; in the limit, it will kill you.

I note that Eric has kept quiet; perhaps he realises he was wrong.
 

Offline tommya300

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #18 on: 17/10/2010 16:00:00 »
"I have been reading some of your posts BC and have learned allot.
You are very intelligent
, but lack social grace."

You respond by picking out the negative...
"I may lack social grace, but I'm not nearly as harsh as reality.
If you make an assumption that is incorrect, reality will not politely explain things to you; in the limit, it will kill you."

It is now well noted you do not know how to respond to a compliment, haven't anyone ever complimented you as a child and in returned thanked them?

To continue this it might go under Physiology & Medicine
« Last Edit: 17/10/2010 16:06:43 by tommya300 »
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #19 on: 17/10/2010 19:01:11 »
Perhaps I was mistaken, but it looked like this.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backhanded_compliment

Incidentally, why does nobody seem to wish to comment on the politeness of Eric's comment i.e. "Not sure you're really a chemist."?
Given my name here, that's an accusation of dishonesty. Did I miss something or is that not rather impolite?
 

Offline tommya300

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #20 on: 17/10/2010 22:32:37 »
No back handed compliment nor am I kissing azz. True real life as you say is abupt, but this is an easy going environment, not a game of hardball.
Since you are the most forward going and most abrasive,  a kind word might just take off that edge. But you suspect the worse. If I were an aviator fighter pilot you would make a great wing man. It is a sincere compliment
« Last Edit: 17/10/2010 22:35:17 by tommya300 »
 

Offline lightarrow

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #21 on: 18/10/2010 18:15:18 »
Incidentally, why does nobody seem to wish to comment on the politeness of Eric's comment i.e. "Not sure you're really a chemist."?
Given my name here, that's an accusation of dishonesty. Did I miss something or is that not rather impolite?
I didn't think you needed to be supported, anyway I can certainly state that I'm in total disagreement with that comment by Eric.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #22 on: 18/10/2010 19:31:25 »
I'm big enough and ugly enough not to worry too much but I still think that Eric should have it brought to his attention that ad hom attacks are neither polite nor scientific. That way he might be less likely to try it again on someone less stubborn than me.
 

Offline Murchie85

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #23 on: 18/10/2010 22:29:38 »
BC- I like your point about nature doesn't politely correct you, in the limit it can kill you. So true, I just wished some more people lived by a code like that when building contraptions based on shoddy science.

In more general terms about life on Titan (without going to far as to merit its own post) I personally feel the idea is a little wishful thinking as there doesn't seem to be an obvious energy source. Sunlight would be less intense, little or no volcanic activity or thermal vents (although there are cryovolcanoes) so no major sources with which to provide energy.
 

Offline Eric A. Taylor

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #24 on: 21/10/2010 05:51:14 »
While there are blurred distinctions in places, water is not organic and therefore cannot be an organic anything. In particular it cannot be an organic solvent.

There's no wriggle-room in that; it just is not an organic solvent. Never has been and never will be.

When someone shows the the carbon atom in H2O I will accept that I was wrong.

As I said, with Eric's definition, all solvents are organic solvents so the term is meaningless. Also his basis for considering it to be an organic solvent is bizarre unless he can show me some saturated hydrocarbons that "dissolve readily in water"

"The distinction between the two disciplines is far from absolute, and there is much overlap, most importantly in the sub-discipline of organometallic chemistry."
About which, we were not talking.


When I say water is an organic solvent, I'm not saying that water is organic (I know that lacking any C water is inorganic.) Water is called the "universal solvent" because so many things can be devolved into it. After physics chemistry is probably the most interesting science...unless you agree with some that say ALL science boils down to physics. After all what drives chemistry? PHYSICS.
 

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Is liquid methane an organic solvent?
« Reply #24 on: 21/10/2010 05:51:14 »

 

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