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Making Music With Mechanisms

April 4, 2014

My friend Harry has an annoying habit. When we’re hanging out, every once in awhile, he’ll put on a serious face and say he has something very important to tell me. Then, when he has my attention, he breaks out that annoying Bryan Adams song that begins with ”Pleeease forgive me…”. He thinks this is hilarious. While it *is* [...]

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Cycloalkanes – Ring Strain In Cyclopropane And Cyclobutane

April 3, 2014

In the last post we saw that cyclopropane and cyclobutane have an unusually high “ring strain” of 27 kcal/mol and 26 kcal/mol respectively.  We determined this by comparing heats of combustion from rings of various sizes, and saw that the ΔHcombustion per CH2 was essentially constant as ring sizes went above 12. Based on these [...]

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Cycloalkanes – How To Calculate Ring Strain

March 24, 2014

In the last post we learned about one consequence of the fact that carbon can form rings – that we can form stereoisomers (cis / trans).  This post attempts to explain another very interesting consequence of ring formation. This whole post is about strain.  It all starts with this: it turns out you can learn [...]

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Success Stories: How Zach Aced Organic Chemistry 1

Success Stories: How Zach Aced Organic Chemistry 1

January 16, 2014

With the first semester over, I recently asked my readers if they could share their stories of how they succeeded [or even failed in] organic chemistry. In the first of a series of posts, I’ll share the response from Zach, who reports earning an A in organic chemistry 1 at a prestigious Ivy League university [...]

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Synthesis (2) – Reactions of Alkanes

Synthesis (2) – Reactions of Alkanes

December 19, 2013

In this post we’re going to begin building our reaction map, starting with the simplest organic compounds of all: alkanes.*We’ve only learned one synthetically important class of alkane reaction: free-radical halogenation. [Combustion is also technically a reaction of alkanes, but producing CO2 and H2O from organic starting materials is not very useful from a synthetic [...]

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Introduction To Synthesis

Introduction To Synthesis

December 17, 2013

By this point we’ve gone over all the major classes of reaction covered in many typical first semester organic chemistry courses.: acid base, substitution, elimination, addition, free-radical reactions, even oxidative cleavage.  Our primary focus has been looking at these reactions as means of transforming one functional group into another, which is the most intuitive way [...]

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In Summary: Free Radicals

In Summary: Free Radicals

December 9, 2013

So what have we learned about free radicals in this series? What Are Free Radicals? Free radicals are chemical species that contain a singly occupied orbital. They are neutral and tend to be highly reactive. One of the most common classes of free-radical reactions is free-radical substitution. Here is an example of the reaction between methane and Cl2: Homolytic [...]

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The Most Important Map Ever Published

The Most Important Map Ever Published

November 20, 2013

Is it “Orgo”, “Organic”, or “O-Chem” at your school? Blog pal Chemjobber has compiled a “Pop vs. Soda“-like map of the USA, but it still needs more data.  Your assistance for this extremely vital research project is required.  Click here to fill out a SUPER QUICK anonymous survey.    Image credit: Chemjobber   Related Posts:Goodwill Notoriously [...]

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Organic Chemistry: The “Bad Boyfriend”

November 8, 2013

I thought pigs would fly before I ever saw an organic chemistry mechanism in the New York Times, but lo and behold, what is this?  The article, titled “How To Get An A- In Organic Chemistry“,  by science writer turned pre-med Barbara Moran, vividly describes her struggle (and eventual success) in learning organic chemistry. My [...]

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“Breaking Bad” Homework: Watch This Short Video Before The Series Finale

September 27, 2013

Who are these two people? Everybody knows the figure on the left is actor Bryan Cranston, who plays the role of rogue chemist Walter White in the series “Breaking Bad”. An estimated 8 million viewers will tune in to the season finale this Sunday to see how his story ends.  Most people don’t know the [...]

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