Following on from the moderate "success" of the first Topic Challenge, the next instalment of the Chemistry.SE Topic Challenge will focus on and

I've picked these as they're generally broad topics which are under-represented here on chem.SE at present, they're also both interesting topics that can be appreciated by beginners and chemists alike.

As previously, it would be great if people could get involved and suggest new topics by dropping a post on the original proposal.

In terms of what questions you can ask, anything goes as long as it's on-topic and broadly related to one of the chosen tags. Feel free to ask one/several questions on either/both, but remember that this is about encouraging quality questions, so lets not just add to the 'close' queue!

For any questions I think need or deserve it, I'll add (or try and coordinate) some bounties and in two weeks time I'll post an answer here with the stats on how many questions have been asked on these tags, how many answers those questions have had and anything else notable.

Remember to tag the question with the relevant tag (there is no specific topic challenge tag, and theres no need to try and make one).

If you have any questions, you can ask them here or bring it up in chat.


2 Answers 2


Biochemistry is funny, straddling chemistry and biology, obviously. To my mind, any questions that treat enzymes and biochemicals as 'colored shapes', rather than as fully realized chemicals, should be off-topic for Chem.SE and asked on Bio.SE instead.

This isn't to say that there are no good questions for here - there are many great questions currently on the site with this tag. But, any questions I come across that seem to me too far removed from the chemical details of the species involved will get my close vote.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It may well turn out to be a bad choice of tag (please do suggest others...), but I think there are hopefully plenty of non-vague-hand-waving-colourful-blob-type questions that could in theory be asked. $\endgroup$
    – NotEvans.
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 11:02
  • $\begingroup$ +1 for mentioning "colored shapes". $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 11:54
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @NotEvans. I debated about posting; my intent wasn't to criticize your choice of tag, but to (re)-raise the issue of the topical boundaries for biochem. Really, I should perhaps have just posted a new question, to begin a separate discussion on the topic, possibly including some suggested revisions to the [biochemistry] tag wiki... hm. $\endgroup$
    – hBy2Py
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 13:36
  • $\begingroup$ @hBy2Py, not at all, criticism welcome! I wasn't around when that discussion was had, but it doesn't look like it really lead anywhere productive, so definitely worth raising. The tag wiki is, now you point it out, also pretty dire. $\endgroup$
    – NotEvans.
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ @hBy2Py It's great to have this boundary raised. So it gives a better demarcation of guidelines. However from my own little experience using both, I notice in Bio.SE, lacks chemical knowledge to explain the biochemistry required for a biochemistry question. I had couple of questions in the past that was going back forth and and then trimmed and slimmed to fit into Chem.SE to get a reasonable response. I am not a native English speaker, it could be my explanations that sound broad. But again, getting labelled as off topic or broad without any clue is a bit of a getting oneself lost further. $\endgroup$
    – bonCodigo
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 2:17
  • $\begingroup$ @bonCodigo Mm, to be clear, my threshold for 'chemically relevant' is fairly low... "what is the chemical reason why this pink box interacts with this green triangle?" is fine by me for Chem.SE. It's just questions where the entire thing is on a level of abstraction where the chemical identity of the species involved is unimportant that I consider off-topic. $\endgroup$
    – hBy2Py
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 3:28

The results of Topic Challenge 2

The second topic challenge appeared to be less successful than the first. Whilst some excellent questions were raised, there haven't been many answers. As previously, it seems to be highly related to the tags chosen, potentially we just don't have enough active users with a strong understanding of biochemistry to be able to answer the kinds of questions that aren't immediately obvious from an undergraduate education/textbook... one last try (hopefully with more successful tags), then potentially re-evaluate/re-think this idea.

Questions asked during the fortnight of the challenge:


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