At this moment, you are sitting in an “organic” body. Your skin, hair, heart, muscles, and lungs are all made from organic compounds. In fact, the only parts of your body that aren’t mostly organic are your teeth and bones! Medicines, clothing, carpets, and plastic are all made from organic compounds. Outside your window, the grass, trees, squirrels – all organic.
What are you having for lunch? Nearly all food is composed of organic compounds – bread, butter, meat, lettuce. For dessert? Sugar, flour, vanilla, and chocolate are all organic. What about a drink? Milk and juice are solutions of organic compounds dissolved in water.
“Organic” was defined as coming from living or once-living matter. An organic compound couldn’t be made from inorganic components
This was known as “vitalism” – it was a theory that was created from the observation that no one had ever been able to make an organic compound, so they assumed it couldn’t be done
Organic compounds had a “vital force” – something you couldn’t cook up in a lab
In 1828, a German chemistnamed Friedrich Wohleraccidentally created urea
Wohler believed in vitalism,as did most everyone at thattime
Wohler’s discovery, accordingto him, was a “great tragedy ofscience… the slaying of abeautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact…” His Petri dish of urea was the ugly fact
Vitalism wasn’t given upimmediately – Wohler’s ureawas just one experiment
However, his experiment gotothers trying – and eventually, other organic molecules were synthesized
Vitalism couldn’t stand up to the growing evidence against it
Even after dozens of organic molecules had been synthesized, there werethose who didn’t want toabandon the vital force theory
Louis Pasteur, a very famousscientist, believed that vitalismcould still be used
However, other scientistsdeveloped theories to explainorganic chemistry without theuse of vitalism
We still use the terms ‘organic’ and ‘inorganic’ from vitalism
Carbon should only form 2 bonds, but it forms 4, as in methane (CH4)
When it forms four single bonds, it mixes, or ‘hybridizes’, its 2s orbital and its three 2p orbitals to make four 2sp3orbitals
When it forms a double bond, it hybridizes its 2s orbital and two of its 2p orbitalsto make three 2sp2orbitals(and it still has one 2p orbital)
When it forms a triple bond or two double bonds, it hybridizes its 2s orbital and one of its 2p orbitals to make two 2sp orbitals (and it still has two 2p orbitals)
Very few elements can form bonds with themselves – actually, only Carbon and Silicon have any real ability to do this
It’s not just single bonds, carbon can bond with itself to make double bonds and triple bonds as well (can it form quadruple bonds?)
Being able to bond with itself and a number of other atoms means it can make a nearly endless variety of compounds
Carbon can do so much, make so many different molecules
Imagine how many different kinds of molecules there are in your body – skin, hair, kidneys, heart, brain, muscles, veins, arteries, genes – all of these are organic, and all of them are different!
And that’s just your body – think of all the animals and plants in the world!
Most organic compounds weuse come from ‘fossil fuels’,oil and coal we find buriedin the earth or sea
Animals and plants that diedlong ago were transformed into fossil fuels by bacteria and extremely high pressure
We extract these fuels from the earth and refine them into hundreds of different products – we’ll learn more about this next day