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1.3: What Preparation Should You Have?

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    We have tried to give you a taste of the beginnings of organic chemistry and a few of the important principles that brought order out of the confusion that existed as to the nature of organic compounds. Before moving on to other matters, it may be well to give you some ideas of what kind of preparation will be helpful to you in learning about organic chemistry from this textbook.

    The most important thing you can bring is a strong desire to master the subject. We hope you already have some knowledge of general chemistry and that you already will have had experience with simple inorganic compounds. That you will know, for example, that elemental bromine is \(Br_2\) and a noxious, dark red-brown, corrosive liquid; that sulfuric acid is \(H_2SO_4\), a syrupy colorless liquid that reacts with water with the evolution of considerable heat and is a strong acid; that sodium hydroxide is \(NaOH\), a colorless solid that dissolves in water to give a strongly alkaline solution. It is important to know the characteristics of acids and bases, how to write simple, balanced chemical reactions, such as \(2H_2 + O_2 \rightarrow 2H_2O\), and \(2NaOH + H_2SO_4 \rightarrow Na_2SO_4 + 2H_2O\), what the concept of a mole of a chemical substance is, and to be somewhat familiar with the periodic table of the elements as well as with the metric system, at least insofar as grams, liters, and degrees centigrade are concerned. Among other things, you also should understand the basic ideas of the differences between salts and covalent compounds, as well as between gases, liquids, and solids; what a solution is; the laws of conservation of mass and energy; the elements of how to derive the Lewis electron structures of simple molecules such as \(H : \underset{\cdot \cdot}{\ddot{O}} : H =\) water; that \(PV = nRT\); and how to calculate molecular formulas from percentage compositions and molecular weights. We shall use no mathematics more advanced than simple algebra but we do expect that you can use logarithms and are able to carry through the following conversions forward and backward:

    \(\text{log}_{10} \: 510,000 = \: \text{log}_{10} \left( 5.1 \times 10^5 \right) = 5.708\)

    The above is an incomplete list, given to illustrate the level of preparation we are presuming in this text. If you find very much of this list partly or wholly unfamiliar, you don't have to give up, but have a good general chemistry textbook available for study and reference - and use it! Some useful general chemistry books are listed at the end of the chapter. A four-place table of logarithms will be necessary; a set of ball-and-stick models and a chemical handbook will be very helpful, as would be a small electronic calculator or slide rule to carry out the simple arithmetic required for many of the exercises.

    In the next section, we review some general chemistry regarding saltlike and covalent compounds that will be of special relevance to our later discussions.

    Contributors and Attributions

    John D. Robert and Marjorie C. Caserio (1977) Basic Principles of Organic Chemistry, second edition. W. A. Benjamin, Inc. , Menlo Park, CA. ISBN 0-8053-8329-8. This content is copyrighted under the following conditions, "You are granted permission for individual, educational, research and non-commercial reproduction, distribution, display and performance of this work in any format."

    This page titled 1.3: What Preparation Should You Have? is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by John D. Roberts and Marjorie C. Caserio.

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