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Instructor’s “kludges” of organic chemistry

Instructor’s “kludges” of organic chemistry

August 22, 2011

A kludge, as commonly defined, is a workaround – an inelegant,  quick and dirty solution to a problem. When I’m teaching a reaction or a new concept to students, I’m focused on getting them to under…

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The Lies We Tell

The Lies We Tell

August 10, 2011

Zed Shaw teaches a course in writing Python called “Python the Hard Way“. Because the hard way is easier, he says. In the end, he’s right. If you really want to learn organic chemistry, the hard way …

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Carbonyl Chemistry: Learn Six Mechanisms For the Price Of One

Carbonyl Chemistry: Learn Six Mechanisms For the Price Of One

March 28, 2011

So at some point during Org 2, you will probably be expected to learn a whole slew  of mechanisms. Like these: Conversion of carboxylic acids to esters (Fischer esterification) Hydrolysis of esters to carboxylic acid…

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The Single Swap Rule

The Single Swap Rule

January 24, 2011

I don’t think there are that many “tricks” to doing well in organic chemistry, but there are a few. I was kind of surprised last month when I talked to a number of students who hadn’t ever come…

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The Power of Laziness

The Power of Laziness

September 20, 2010

What would you do to save 5 seconds? Let’s say it takes 10 minutes to walk from the gym to class.  Would it matter much to you if it took 10 minutes and 5 seconds instead of 10 minutes? This is on the way from …

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The Magic Wand of Proton Transfer

The Magic Wand of Proton Transfer

April 30, 2010

When textbooks (or your teacher/TA/tutor) start writing down reaction mechanisms, sometimes  you’ll see hell of a lot of curved arrows. The curved arrow notation is useful – it depicts how pairs of elect…

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A simple trick: The (R)-(S) Toggle

A simple trick: The (R)-(S) Toggle

March 13, 2010

Instead of redrawing the whole molecule, just leave the hydrogen (or other 4th ranked substituent) in front and figure out whether the substituents ranked 1,2, and 3 go clockwise or counterclockwise. Then toggle (i.…

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