of the element carbon
and its compound
s is often refered to as organic chemistry
. Organic chemistry is one of the largest field
s in chemistry, and all it really covers is carbon bonding.
Originally chemists used the term 'organic chemistry' to describe the study of substances derived from plants or animals. Such substances included urea from urine, citric acid from fruits or lactic acid from milk. Any substance that did not occur naturally in a plant or an animal was considered to be inorganic. In 1815 it was even proposed that the difference between organic and inorganic chemicals was the existance of some 'vital force' that was required to create an organic chemical. However in 1828 a German chemist challenged this theory by heating ammonia cyanate to dryness and creating urea. Later, in 1845 the theory was completely disproved when Kolbe prepared acetic acid from its basic constituants: carbon, oxygen and hydrogen.
Today organic chemistry is essentially the study of carbon bonding (excluding metal carbonates, hydrogencarbonates and the oxides of carbon). The number of carbon-based compounds is greater than the sum of all other known compounds that do not contain carbon! A few million carbon compounds have been prepared and isolated, so it is convenient to examine this large group of compounds as a seperate field of study.
For me, probably the hardest aspect of organic chemistry is the naming process (See A guide to naming organic compounds (I'm about to write that one up)). Seeing as there are a few million carbon compounds known to man, we can't name the compounds after the person that discovered them, there has to be a system.
Organic chemistry is one of the less interesting fields of chemistry IMHO. There are, however, some interesting aspects of it. buckyballs and carbon nanotubes are some of the first interesting aspects, but it is also seeming that molecular biology and nanotechnology are coming together.
Organic chemistry could prove to save this dying planet.