Chemistry Shorts: Cracking Chirality

7/7   in the series Chemistry Shorts Video Series

“Cracking Chirality” is a 12-minute video on the mystery of mirror molecules. Two Harvard University scientists, Dimitar Sasselov and Furkan Ozturk, explore the origin and structure of the essential molecules of life, such as DNA, RNA, and proteins, and attempt to uncover the reason behind chirality, the idea that some molecules with the same chemical composition come in two mirror-image configurations.

“Life’s polymers from DNA, to RNA, to the proteins, cannot really function if they’re a mess of left-handed and right-handed molecules. They have to be clearly homochiral. And you need to do something very special to break that symmetry. It is still a big mystery of how this happened at the origin of life. And our work is trying to answer that question.” 

— Dr. Dimitar Sasselov

“Cracking Chirality” is targeted towards high school and college students, and can be used as a starting point for discussions on the chemical origins of life, molecular chirality, electron spin, magnetism, and more.  An accompanying lesson plan is available for teachers free via

The film is freely available for viewing online either in the video window above or at

The Chemistry Shorts film series is funded by The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and is endorsed by American Association of Chemistry Teachers, American Chemical Society, and AIChE - American Institute of Chemical Engineers.