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So I understand that a radical is a compound with an unpaired electron but I don't understand how this occurs. Why would a radical form? Are there few compounds that can support an unpaired electron? And when Lavelle says that they only exist for a short time, what happens to them?
What Lavelle means by "they only exist for a short time" is that because they have an unpaired electron, they are extremely unstable and very likely to bond with another atom/molecule to crete a more stable molecule. That means that no compound can ever really "support" a radical, because they are very likely to bond with something else to increase the stability of the molecule. So really, when they cease to exist they are just becoming a new molecule where part of the molecule was the original radical. And a radical forms whenever there is a molecule with an unpaired electron. One scenario in which that can happen is if there are a series of reactions where the radical is the output of one reaction and then becomes the input of the next reaction.
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