Cake or pie?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

First Impression: Organic Chemistry

Today I had my first lecture in organic chemistry and first meeting of the organic chemistry lab. The professor in the lecture seems like a pretty laid-back guy, he was wearing Asics running shoes with his khakis and blazer so he already gets a thumbs-up from me. I'm an Asics kind of guy. I like that their name is derived from the Latin expression "Anima sana in corpore sano" which means "A sound spirit in a sound body." The original quote from Juvenal was "Mens sana in corpore sano" which means "A sound mind in a sound body" but I guess ASICS sounds better than MSICS. High school Latin rears its ugly head again, sorry. Alea iacta est. Sorry, I think it's out of my system now! I'm sorry for the diversion, let's get back to organic.

Unlike the physics professor in our 50 minute class yesterday, the organic professor went over the syllabus in about 10 minutes, leaving most of the hour and fifteen minute lecture to actually lecture. He made a few introductory comments about organic.. it is the chemistry of carbon, and then went into depth in the language of organic and the myriad ways with which to depict the molecules we will study, some of which was review, like Lewis dot structures, but also dash line models (wedge represents the plane heading towards the viewer from the paper, dashed line represents plane heading away from the viewer). We started off with something simple, which was this:

Yes, it's good old methane, CH4. There are a bunch of ways to depict methane, including the 3D ball/stick model above, and we drew it a bunch of different ways, talked about nodal planes, lobes and phases, and how phases are depicted by + or - signs, which he admitted can be confusing, since they don't indicate a positive or negative charge.

Then we talked about line drawings like /\ could represent propane and it's assumed that each angle and each endpoint of the line represents a carbon atom and the hydrogens to fill its orbitals. We talked a LOT about atomic orbitals and molecular orbitals near the end of class. We also hit structural isomers very briefly near the end, talking about the line drawings, which seem to me like the easiest shorthand to use in organic chemistry. Then we talked about propane and specifically how this:

is not propane. You always have to assume the endpoints of lines are occupied by C's (carbons) he said, with the hydrogen necessary to fill out the rest of the orbitals present as well. So instead of the above being propane, this has a longest chain of 5 carbons, making it a pentane, with methyl groups at the 2,2 positions, 3,3 positions, and 4,4 positions (six methyl groups total) making it 2,2,3,3,4,4-hexamethylpentane. At least I'm not confused. Yet. Yay!

The lab was pretty straightfoward in that we did not do anything substantive. Our instructor introduced herself, she's originally from somewhere overseas (I know where she's from, I was paying attention, but forgive me for being intentionally vague), but has been in the US for over thirty years, and says when she gets excited she can be hard to understand so if that happens, we are to tell her to slow down. Next, we went around, everyone introducing themselves with their name, major, and something interesting about them. I just said I graduated years ago, I'm a post-bac. Not so interesting. In my lab section there are a few other pre-meds and a lot of sophomores and juniors. In addition the interestingness included a guy that has played the guitar for several years, a Redskins fan, an expert diaper changer and a girl that loves to dance. Gotta love those icebreakers!

We had check-in for our drawers, signed that everything was present even though no one really checked, student, lab instructor or even the director of the labs. I guess if something is missing at the end of the semester we're screwed. Oh well. The last thing we did after turning in our paperwork (sheet confirming we've already taken the organic chemistry I lecture somewhere or are currently enrolled in it, lab rules/safety sheet agreement, and combination personal info/emergency contact and medical Hx sheet), we watched a dated safety video that looked like it was produced in the mid-90s. I know at least a few people in the lab, one that I worked with in my genchem II lab, and he was a smart, dependable partner, which is always a plus. I don't get anxious about who I get paired up with, but it just sucks so hard when your lab partner does not know what they're doing or how to do the simplest of calculations (even in Excel!), which happened to me last year a few times. This one girl in question, one time she sent me a text wanting to compare my lab report to hers and WE HAD NOT WORKED TOGETHER! I hate being passive aggressive, but even so, I just ignored her text, thinking to myself, "Yes, why don't you 'compare' your nonexistent lab report to mine. That sounds great!"

No comments: