Steric hindrance refers specifically to the fact that atoms and compounds have mass and charge, and, like all objects with mass and charge, they interact together. Consider the molecule below. It is a standard alkane shown with stereo-chemical configurations and various substituents. Methyl groups (CH3) are composed of four atoms and are very large, especially compared to a small atom such as hydrogen. Atoms such as fluorine and iodine, and molecules as hydroxide (OH) are smaller than methyl groups but larger than hydrogen, and they also exhibit dipoles. Steric interactions are often illustrated by drawing a Newman projection, such as the one shown below, that illustrates the spatial arrangement of atoms around a C-C bond focal point.
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