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Organic Chemistry - Essay 2

  • Date Submitted: 06/11/2011 10:46 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 21.4 
  • Words: 732
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Organic chemistry is a sub discipline within chemistry involving the scientific study of the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and preparation (by synthesis or by other means) of carbon-based compounds, hydrocarbons, and their derivatives. These compounds may contain any number of other elements, including hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, the halogens as well as phosphorus, silicon and sulfur.
Organic compounds are structurally diverse. The range of application of organic compounds is enormous. They either form the basis of or are important constituents of many products including plastics, drugs, petrochemicals, food, explosives, and paints. They form the basis of all earthly life processes (with very few exceptions).

In the early nineteenth century, chemists generally believed that compounds obtained from living organisms were too complex to be obtained synthetically. According to the concept of vitalism, organic matter was endowed with a "vital force". They named these compounds "organic" and directed their investigations toward inorganic materials that seemed more easily studied.
During the first half of the nineteenth century, scientists realized that organic compounds can be synthesized in the laboratory. Around 1816 Michel Chevreul started a study of soaps made from various fats and alkalis. He separated the different acids that, in combination with the alkali, produced the soap. Since these were all individual compounds, he demonstrated that it was possible to make a chemical change in various fats (which traditionally come from organic sources), producing new compounds, without "vital force". In 1828 Friedrich Wohler produced the organic chemical urea (carbamide), a constituent of urine, from the inorganic ammonium cyanate NH4CNO, in what is now called the Wohler synthesis. Although Wohler was always cautious about claiming that he had disproved the theory of vital force, this event has often been thought of as a turning point.
In 1856 William...

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