What is Organic Chemistry? About This Website

Hello!! I am Dr. Mole, Japanese organic chemist who got Ph.D. degree at The University of Tokyo. In this website, I introduce you to organic molecules found in things around you and the interesting science behind those molecules. This post is an introduction to explain what is organic molecules.

First, what is “molecule”? A molecule is the smallest unit that determines what something is. In other words, if you cut a substance into smaller and smaller pieces and cannot cut it any more, it is a molecule. Molecules are made of atoms. Molecules are nanometer-sized (one billionth of a meter). One billionth is roughly the size of a coin relative to the Earth.

Image of nano size

Second, what is “organic”? You might image it as something natural or healthy. In fact, more than 200 years ago, “organic” was considered to be derived from living organisms, while “inorganic” was considered to be derived from minerals. However, since 1828, when the German chemist Friedrich Wöhler synthesized “organic” from “inorganic” molecules, this distinction no longer applies. Today, an organic molecule is a molecule that contains a carbon atom. However, very simple molecules such as carbon dioxide are not included in organic molecules.

Synthesis of organic from inorganic
Source of photo: Wikipedia

Carbon alone can only produce graphite, diamonds and etc.. However, when carbon is combined with other elements like hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, an infinite number of combinations exist. This is why organic molecules are found everywhere and in almost everything. For example, food, plants, animals, clothing, shampoo, crude oil, pharmaceuticals, and liquid crystals are all made of organic molecules. Organic molecules including something healthy and something toxic. Organic molecules including something natural and something artificial.

Example of organic molecules around us

All organic molecules can be described by a structural formula. The structural formula is a formula drawn by connecting the letters of the alphabet (symbols of elements) with lines, as shown in the figure. This is what the molecule looks like, and there are several rules that apply. By looking at this structural formula, chemists can roughly predict the properties of the molecule. In other words, this formula contains a lot of information and is the universal language for chemists. Organic chemistry is the study of analyzing the structure of a molecule, creating new molecules, and combining molecules to create functions. There is no end to the research of organic chemistry, because organic molecules have unlimited possibilities. I hope that you will enjoy the organic molecules around you on this website.

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