Purpose and mission
This book should become the gold standard of organic chemistry texts in the areas of accuracy, usability, flexibility, and connection with its audience. As this text is developed it will always be available online, be printable, and freely distributable. This text should eliminate all or much of the cost for owning an up-to-the-minute, top-quality college-level organic chemistry text, as it and all its derivative works will remain free: free as in speech as well as free as in beer. Although you could pay for a printed version if you wanted to.
Content and Contributions
This is, to the best of our knowledge, the world's first and only open content organic chemistry textbook. Its users will tweak and refine this book until there is no better book. We are confident that this will happen because the process has already been seen to work many times on the Wikipedia site.
All content contained herein is available under licences that allow free distribution. You can copy it, print it, sell it, and create derivative works from it.
Our restriction: if you create derivative works, make them available to others in a way that they can easily copy and distribute them, as we have done for you.
We link to some pages outside our server. Any of this content not found under the Wikipedia site and subsites is not ensured to be under the same license; it in fact is most likely not.
I like the navigation that I have worked out in the Foundational concepts of organic chemistry page and immediate subpages with links at the top of the page to the immediate next and previous pages and the various levels, and links at the bottom to the next and previous chapters, etc. If you want to help out please help me get all of the pages in the same format.
- Karl Wick Citizen of the United States of America, and living there
- The initiator of this project is Karl Wick, who is finishing up his premed science courses at the Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio. At the time of this writing (7/15/03) I have been the sole contributor but as time goes on it will become a group project "of the people" as many contribute and improve it by bits and pieces.
- Justin Johnson Citizen of the United States of America, residing therein, born 1975
- David Rose
- David Rose (Ghostal) is a chemical engineering undergraduate at Michigan Technological University. He began adding to this book in October, 2004.
- Patrick Holder (Lineweaver) is a PhD Graduate Student working for Matt Francis at UC-Berkeley in the Department of Chemistry. He began adding to this book in December, 2005.
- Zachary T. Tackett, Zach is a student at Marshall University majoring in bio-organic chemistry.
- Pete Davis Citizen of the United States of America. I joined this project in November 2006. There are few of us working on it at the moment. Feel free to join in.
- Ewen McLaughlin UK Citizen, living in Wales. I started adding bits here in February 2006. I'm a teacher, so I suppose I might be more help with how to present information than with the information itself.
And many anonymous Wikibook contributors.
Many thanks to Jimbo Wales for paying for the bandwidth and for the many other ways he has been a great support to this project at every step.
All work in this book is released at the moment only under the GNU FDL license. However this is only one of many similar open content licenses, and may not be the license of choice for everyone. To take content written by Karl Wick from this book for release under other licenses please contact the author through this page's associated talk page.
How to study organic chemistry
One of the main difficulties students have with organic chemistry is organizing the information in their minds. By the second semester of organic chemistry, students will learn over 100 chemical reactions. Consequently, it is vital that students take time to not only organize the information, but also to understand it. Indeed, excellent organic professors will tell you, contrary to popular belief, that you do not really need to memorize anything for organic chemistry, instead you simply need to understand it. By truly learning something, rather than memorizing it, you will be able to apply concepts beyond what you are memorizing.
When you see something in the textbook, always ask why something is the case. Do research, try to find out the answer. By taking this approach you will enrich your learning experience, and the information will be "locked" in your mind.
Each person may have a slightly different method that helps him or her learn organic chemistry the quickest and with least pain. The basic rule of thumb is to use a method that you find most helpful and stick with it. Various study methods include flash cards, molecular model kits, group study, writing chemical reactions on blackboards, others just take the class over and over until they "get it".
The writers would recommend to buy a molecular model kit so you can hold in your hand and visualize in your mind how the molecules look in three-dimensional space. If you can't get access to models or can't afford them, look online for sites that use the Jmol application or other rendering software that allow you to virtually rotate molecules.
It cannot be stressed enough that you must be able to visualize molecules in organic chemistry. The 3 dimensional structure of molecules often plays a crucial part in reactions. It can be the deciding factor in whether a reaction even happens, it can decide how fast it happens, and it can decide what the product(s) of the reaction is going to be. If you can't visualize the 3D structure, you won't be able to understand what's happening.
You can think of the different elements and functional groups as players in a game and the organic reactions as the plays. Just as each player or team has different strengths or characteristics and uses strategies to achieve what they want, organic chemists use the properties of each chemical to play off the others in order to achieve a desired end result.
You can also think of organic chemistry like learning a foreign language. The atoms, for example, carbon and hydrogen and oxygen and nitrogen, are the letters of the alphabet. The structural theory of organic chemistry, namely, the tetravalencey of carbon, may be considered the essential underlying grammatical rule. All organic compounds are assembled under these grammatical rules, and may be considered words. The reactions of organic compounds may be perceived as the assembly of these words into sentences. A language analogy is also useful at this point, because the grammatical rules that control the assembly of sentences (formation of the products of organic reactions!) may be found in the study of organic reaction mechanisms.
Therefore, it is not necessary to memorize individual reactions. Overall patterns of reactivity become obvious when the mechanism of the reaction is investigated. Moreover, like any language, you have to practice it constantly. The more you "read" and "speak" chemical reactions and understand the mechanisms by which they proceed, the more fluent you will become. When you finish organic chemistry, you will literally be able to read, write, and speak in a foreign language. However, it is important to note that the language of organic chemistry is far simpler than any language people use for general communication! The words mean exactly what they mean, and the basic rules almost never change. But organic chemistry is far from a dead science. In fact, it is one of the most active and rapidly advancing areas in modern science today.
Research produces new knowledge, and the potential to formulate new rules. Perhaps you will make some of these discoveries, and future students will refer to your rules.
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