Intro to Organic Chemistry

Why do we take an entire year learning about Organic chemistry? What makes Ochem so special? Let’s find out. 

Examples of Organic Molecules

Concept: Organic molecules in your everyday life.

Video Transcript

Hey guys, I just want to kick off this course talking about the relevance of organic chemistry. Hopefully, by this point you've already had one year of general chemistry, so you learned about a lot of the atoms on the periodic table. Well, what is it about organic chemistry that's so special? Why do we take an entire extra year to learn about organic chemistry? Let's go ahead and look into that.
Basically, organic chemistry is the study of the chemistry of life. Okay? What that means is that many of the molecules we're going to be discussing in this course have to do with molecules that are made by biological systems. That makes them really important to our lives.
For example, you go to the store and you want to buy some shampoo. I know all of you guys have done this where you look at the back and you're like, “Wow, what are all these ingredients. I have no clue what's going on.” Organic chemistry gives you the tools to be able to understand what's actually in a lot of the products that you consume.
For example, Burt's Bees Very Volumizing Shampoo. I even included a price tag. I'm not affiliated with this company at all. I don't even use it as you can tell. My hair doesn't have enough volume. But, whatever. I just thought this was an interesting example.
Here we have four molecules that we may learn a little bit more about later. And as you can see, they can all be represented by these structures that I've drawn here. Now, you don't have the ability to fully understand these structures yet. We're going to get to that by the end of this chapter. Okay?
But what's interesting is that organic chemistry really gives you a new lens to view the world through because now you're going to actually start to understand a lot of these forces that go into making these products or making food, or whatever. You're going to be able to look at that and understand it a lot better.
Another application, just to show you how diverse the field of organic chemistry is, is completely on the opposite. How about if you want to create something really destructive like nerve gas. Nerve gas, that has all to do with organic chemistry and actually has to do with the way that organic chemistry reacts with the body, and that's what we call biochemistry, right? Biochemistry would be the interaction of chemistry with biological systems.
This is not something that we're going to get to for a while, in fact, ever. This is something I learned in pharmacy school. But I just want to show you guys how molecules like acetic acid, choline, acetylcholine, these are molecules that are based off of organic chemistry, interact with your body and actually could kill you like in 30 seconds. It's crazy how fast these molecules work. 

Household products have tons of organic molecules in them! It feels awesome when you know what they mean.

Defining Organic Molecules

Concept: What is an organic molecule?

Video Transcript

So let's just go into recognizing what is an organic molecule. Technically, there's actually a lot of definitions on what is an organic molecule based on what year you're talking about. Back then they used to have a much different definition. Some books will even say some things that are different.
But the majority of the consensus is that technically an organic molecule is any molecule that contains both carbon, obviously, right? We know that the chemistry of life is basically built on carbon, at least on the earth. And carbon and hydrogen. Okay.
The reason I said the whole earth thing is because some people are like, “Oh, aliens are made out of like silicon or something,” but whatever. The biology of life has to do with carbons, okay?
Then an organic molecule that contains a mixture of hydrogen and carbon only, it doesn't have any other atoms, would be called – do you guys know that one? You should know that one. A hydrocarbon. 

  • Organic Molecule: Any molecule that contains carbon bonded to hydrogen.
  • Hydrocarbon: Any molecule that contains only carbon and hydrogen, and nothing else.

Example: Which of the following molecules are organic? Which are hydrocarbons?

Video Transcript

So hopefully what you said was that letter (a) is definitely organic, so I'm just going to put an O with a checkbox, and it is because it's made out of carbon and hydrogen. Perfect.
Is it also a hydrocarbon? So I'm going to put H. Is it also a hydrocarbon? Yes, it is because it only has carbon and hydrogen. In fact, this is the most simple, the smallest form of carbon called methane. So know that methane smells bad. It's released in like gas. Sorry, it's too much information, but whatever. That is an organic molecule.
How about this next one here? Hopefully, you said that yes, this is organic. Okay. Because once again it has carbon and it has hydrogen.
Is it a hydrocarbon? No, this would not be a hydrocarbon. The reason is because it has an oxygen there. See how I have an atom that is not a carbon or a hydrogen, so that means that this is considered just an organic molecule. In fact, this is acetone, so if you guys maybe, you girls, use acetone like take your nail polish off, whatever. I hate that smell. It's like disgusting. That's what the molecule looks like.
Really learning about a lot of really cool molecules. At least, I think they're cool. I have to think they're cool, I'm a tutor. But they are really cool. Hopefully, you'll get to know them too. Don't memorize these names yet. I'm just giving you some information for later.
Then finally, this last one, hopefully what you guys said is that this was not organic and also it was not a hydrocarbon. Okay. The reason is because I do have a carbon here, but I do not have a hydrogen. Okay. There are no hydrogens, so this is not an organic molecule. In fact, this is what we consider – it can be a little bit confusing – inorganic carbon, like not organic. This would be a form of inorganic carbon because it doesn't have any hydrogens at all.
In fact, this is CO2 or carbon dioxide. So carbon dioxide, you know that's like a greenhouse gas. It goes into the air. That's considered inorganic. We would learn about this a little bit more in gen chem because it has to do more with inorganic Then for organic, we would deal more with the molecules that have hydrogens on them. Okay. That's a general rule.

Orgo isn’t so bad, right? Let’s move onto the next topic.