Organic chemistry is most commonly and simply defined as the chemistry of carbon compounds. Carbon is not an abundant element in the universe, or even the solar system; but it is an essential element of life. Indeed, four elements: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen make up most of the matter found in living organisms. Trace elements such as sulfur, phosphorous, sodium, potassium and iron, to name a few, also play an important role in the chemistry of life; but it is the unique properties of carbon that permits the immense diversity of compounds associated with life. From simple single-carbon compounds such as methane and carbon dioxide to the more complex structures found in vitamins, hormones and enzymes, and ultimately to very large macromolecules like DNA, carbon is the underlying essential structural component.
Since the birth of organic chemistry over two hundred years ago, chemists have worked to unravel the structural complexities of these compounds. Today, all the facts and principles they have learned are consolidated in our texts and journals. Industrial applications have led to the manufacture of medicinal agents (drugs), synthetic fibers, plastics, dyes, pesticides and a host of other useful materials. Clearly, organic chemistry has touched all our lives. The study of organic chemistry is both fascinating and relevant, due in large part to the widespread distribution of both natural and synthetic organic chemicals.
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These materials may be used in a formal course of organic chemistry in a variety of ways. Because of the modular structure of this text, it is easy to pick and choose the subjects to be treated, as well as the depth of coverage. Numerous anchors on all the pages of this text allow tailoring the material to a suit many ends. An example of a short course table of contents may be examined by Clicking Here.
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