Chemistry has been called the science of what things are. Its intent is the exploration of the nature of the materials that fabricate our physical environment, why they hold the different properties that depict them, how their atomic structure may be fathomed, and how they may be manipulated and changed.
Although organic reactions have been conducted by man since the discovery of fire, the science of Organic chemistry did not develop until the turn of the eighteenth century, mainly in France at first, then in Germany, later on in England. By far the largest variety of materials that bombard us are made up of organic elements. The beginning of the Ninetieth century was also the dawn of chemistry, all organic substances were understood as all being materials produced by living organisms: wood, bone, cloth, food, medicines, and the complex substances that configure the human body. Inorganic material was believed to come from the Earth: salt, metals, and rock, just to name a few.
Because of the human’s wonder of natural life, organic materials were believed to possess an enigmatic “Vital Force.” Thus organic chemistry was separated from inorganic chemistry, and it became it’s own field of science. By the turn of the Nineteenth the “Vital Force” theory was immensely discredited, but this branch of science still stayed separated from inorganic chemistry. Back when Organic chemistry was the chemistry of living matter, Professor Wohler succeeded in synthesizing in the laboratory an organic compound previously observed in living tissue as Urea. Professor Wohler made this organic compound from non-living chemical substance, Ammonium Cyanate. He evaporated a solution of Ammonium Cyanate to produce Urea. Thus rendering the “Vital Force” theory to be with flaws. Other famous experiments proved the vitalism theory was wrong. In 1845 Kolbe synthesized acetic acid, the chief component in vinegar, in a flow of reactions starting with Carbon, the experiment is demonstrated better defined since acetic acid (C6H4O2) is a carbon-carbon bond. The theory of vitalism, like many other scientific theories, disappeared slowly under the weight of accumulated evidence rather than as a consequence of any one brilliant and enlightening experiment.
Structural theory, which developed in the 1860’s, started the second major period of growth in the organic chemistry field. The de...
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...reactions were already known and in active use to synthesize organic compounds into other compounds, only with this understanding of the nature of a chemical bond did a clear reason of the nature an mechanism of chemical reactions begin to appear. This will be clear when one realizes that the transformation of one molecule to another, a chemical reaction, requires the breaking of some bonds and the making of others. This process could not be understood until one knew what a bond is. Thus if the nineteenth century was devoted to unraveling the fixed structures of molecules, the twentieth century will be devoted to the study of their transformations.
The study of science and more specifically the study of organic chemistry is an on going affair. In the scientific community one never rests, there is a continual stream of experimentation and the desire to explore new realms. The cutting edge in science is grounded in the medical field. How can we manipulate genetic codes the building blocks of life? The things we have learned over the years are allowing us to build those bridges to the future, a future that might see an improvement in the human condition by way of organic chemistry.
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