On studying the various chemicals that were produced by living things, it was found that the common link among them was the presence of carbon in their composition. Organic chemistry is carbon-based chemistry in which compounds which have carbon as a functional part of the molecule are studied. The physical as well as chemical properties of such substances are studied in this branch of chemistry. The reactions which bring about changes in the physical or chemical or both the properties of these aggregates of matter are also important and carefully considered.
Till the early 19th century, some scientists fancied the idea of living beings containing a certain vital force which allowed them to live, breathe, eat, grow and reproduce. They held the belief that life cannot spring forth from the manipulation of inorganic compounds. Thus, unless a product was obtained from animals or plants and contained a part of their vital spark, it could not be made from any other available substance by subjecting it to reactions. However, these scientists were proven wrong when urea, an organic compound, was synthesized successfully from inorganic reactants.
Making and breaking of bonds
An answer to the question of what exactly is organic chemistry cannot be sufficiently provided without understanding the mechanisms by which organic chemists bring about changes in the properties of their experimental subjects. An organic chemist can be considered to be Dr. Frankenstein, either persuading the constituents of his molecule monster to make a connection with other each other or break the connection. In chemistry, such connections are referred to as chemical bonds. The rules and principles which govern how the bonds are made and broken are also deliberated upon in the study of organic chemistry.
Natural and synthetic
For an organic chemist, there is no difference between a substance obtained from the lining of a dog’s stomach and the same substance produced in the laboratory. As long as the composition and arrangement of the constituent particles is the same and substances exhibit the same properties, the organic chemist will not be biased towards one of them. This approach has helped humans to synthesize many compounds which could previously be obtained only from living beings. Organic chemistry entails the study of all such synthesizing processes and the development of techniques which can help to achieve a successful product.
Fifteen million and counting
The number of known organic compounds has reached fifteen million. It is impossible to ignore their examination without risking a decline in our reach and capacity to grow as an intelligent community. Petroleum, explosives, medicines and even plastics are some of the categories where organic chemistry is at the core of all understanding. Organic chemistry is very important because it finds uses in conjugation with other fields of science. Even the soaps and detergents are part of organic chemistry which has expanded beyond specifications. A well-informed person can make thorough decisions and since organic chemistry deals with various aspects of life around us, it is a vital branch of chemistry.