Organic Chemistry is a remarkably broad and complex subject. Since the birth of organic chemistry over two hundred years ago, millions of new compounds have been isolated or prepared, and chemists have worked to answer one or more of three basic questions:
What is it? How does it behave? How can it be manufactured?
To answer the first and third questions it is necessary to determine the molecular structure of a new compound. Answering the second question provides key information for that purpose.
Today, all the facts and principles that have been learned by their efforts are consolidated in our texts and journals. Industrial applications of this knowledge have led to the manufacture of medicinal agents, synthetic fibers, plastics, dyes, pesticides and a host of other useful materials. Clearly, organic chemistry has touched all our lives. The study of organic chemistry is both fascinating and relevant, due in large part to the widespread distribution of both natural and synthetic organic chemicals.
To understand and achieve a practical mastery of organic chemistry requires an evaluation of interacting, and often competing principles and factors. These do not generally lend themselves to a quantitative treatment, so qualitative judgements as to their relative importance are necessary. Six important factors to which repeated reference will be made are:
Simple, non-technical illustrations of these topics are provided here: Getting Started for the novice.