MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: What is organic chemistry?

Date: Fri Dec 3 13:18:09 1999
Posted By: Dan Berger, MadSci Admin
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 944231070.Ch

What is organic chemistry?

I ask because I found out that compounds are being created synthetically in labs, with properties similar to organic compounds. If these compounds aren't necessarily organic, but in organic chemistry, how does that change the definition of organic chemistry.

You are confusing two or three different definitions of "organic." One definition is in common use: "Using or produced with fertilizers of only animal or vegetable matter." Another is the one used by scientists until about 1850, from which the first is derived: "Of or derived from living organisms." But the one we use in chemistry is this: "Of or designating carbon compounds."
Actually, not all carbon-containing compounds are considered organic; for example, carbon dioxide and carbonate salts are both considered "inorganic carbon."
The compounds "being created synthetically in labs" not only have "properties similar to organic compounds;" they are organic compounds. In fact there is no difference whatsoever between the synthetic compound and the one extracted by brutally destroying or exploiting living organisms; for more, see this answer or this one.

For more information than you ever wanted to know about this question, search our archives for files containing the word "organic."

Dan Berger
MadSci Administrator

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