The geometry or shape of a molecule has a signifcant effect on the physical properties of the molecule. The chirality of carbon can determine its optical activity. Even if two compounds are of the same formula, one compound could be transparent the other opaque just because of a slight difference in geometry. The cis and trans configurations of fatty acids affect the melting point even if the fatty acids have similar formulas. The trans-fatty acids have a relatively high melting point and are likely to acculmulate and clog arteries as they stay in solid form (McMurry, 2003).
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The geometry of a molecule also plays a vital role in determining if a chemical reaction will take place. For example, the Diels-Alder reaction requires the the diene to have the π-bonded carbons in the cis configuration. Should the π-bonded carbons be in the trans configuration, then the reaction process will be antarafacial; highly unlikely to produce the desired cycloaddition product. The product of Hoffman elimination defies the Zaitsef rule due to the steric hindrance of eliminating the leaving group from the most substituted carbon since the base involved is too bulky (March, 1985).
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