chapter4 - Chapter 4 Carbon and the Molecular Diversity of...

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Chapter 4    Carbon and the Molecular Diversity of  Life    Lecture Outline Overview: Carbon – The Backbone of Biological Molecules           Although cells are 70–95% water, the rest consists mostly of carbon-based compounds.           Carbon is unparalleled in its ability to form large, complex, and diverse molecules.           Carbon accounts for the diversity of biological molecules and has made possible the great diversity  of living things.           Proteins, DNA, carbohydrates, and other molecules that distinguish living matter from inorganic  material are all composed of carbon atoms bonded to each other and to atoms of other elements.           These other elements commonly include hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), nitrogen (N), sulfur (S), and  phosphorus (P).    Concept 4.1 Organic chemistry is the study of carbon compounds            The study of carbon compounds,  organic chemistry,  deals with any compound with carbon  (organic compounds).           Organic compounds can range from simple molecules, such as CO 2  or CH 4 , to complex molecules  such as proteins, which may weigh more than 100,000 daltons.           The overall percentages of the major elements of life (C, H, O, N, S, and P) are quite uniform from  one organism to another.           However, because of carbon’s versatility, these few elements can be combined to build an  inexhaustible variety of organic molecules.           Variations in organic molecules can distinguish even between individuals of a single species.
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          The science of organic chemistry began in attempts to purify and improve the yield of products  obtained from other organisms.           Initially, chemists learned to synthesize simple compounds in the laboratory, but had no success  with more complex compounds.           The Swedish chemist Jons Jacob Berzelius was the first to make a distinction between organic  compounds that seemed to arise only in living organisms and inorganic compounds that were found in  the nonliving world.           This led early organic chemists to propose  vitalism,  the belief that physical and chemical laws  did not apply to living things.           Support for vitalism began to wane as organic chemists learned to synthesize complex organic  compounds in the laboratory.
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This note was uploaded on 03/19/2008 for the course M 302 taught by Professor Irwin during the Spring '08 term at University of Texas at Austin.

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chapter4 - Chapter 4 Carbon and the Molecular Diversity of...

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