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Methane is one of the simplest organic compoundsAn organic compound is any member of a large class of chemical compounds whose molecules contain carbon. For historical reasons discussed below, a few types of carbon-containing compounds such as carbonates, simple oxides of carbon and cyanides, as well as the allotropes of carbon such as diamond and graphite, are considered inorganic. The distinction between "organic" and "inorganic" carbon compounds, while "useful in organizing the vast subject of chemistry... is somewhat arbitrary".
Organic chemistry is the science concerned with all aspects of organic compounds. Organic synthesis is the methodology of their preparation.
1.2 Modern classification
2.1 Natural compounds
2.2 Synthetic compounds
5 Structure determination
6 See also
8 External links
The name "organic" is historical, dating back to the 1st century. For many centuries, Western alchemists believed in vitalism. This is the theory that certain compounds could only be synthesized from their classical elements — Earth, Water, Air and Fire — by action of a "life-force" (vis vitalis) possessed only by organisms. Vitalism taught that these "organic" compounds were fundamentally different from the "inorganic" compounds that could be obtained from the elements by chemical manipulation.
Vitalism survived for a while even after the rise of modern atomic theory and the replacement of the Aristotelian elements by those we know today. It first came under question in 1824, when Friedrich Wöhler synthesized oxalic acid, a compound known to occur only in living organisms, from cyanogen. A more decisive experiment was Wöhler's 1828 synthesis of urea from the inorganic salts potassium cyanate and ammonium sulfate. Urea had long been considered to be an "organic" compound as it was known to occur only in the urine of living organisms. Wöhler's experiments were followed by many others, where increasingly complex "organic" substances were produced from "inorganic" ones without the involvement of any living organism.
 Modern classification
Even after vitalism had been disproved, the distinction between "organic" and "inorganic" compounds has been retained through the present. The modern meaning of "organic compound" is any one of them that contains a significant amount of carbon - even though many of the "organic compounds" known today have no connection whatsoever with any substance found in living organisms.
There is no "official" definition of an organic compound. Some text books define an organic compound as one containing one or more C-H bonds; others include C-C bonds in the definition. Others state that if a molecule contains carbon it is organic.
Even the broader definition of "carbon-containing molecules" requires the exclusion of carbon-containing alloys (including steel), a relatively small number of carbon-containing compounds such as metal carbonates and carbonyls, simple oxides of carbon and cyanides, as well as the allotropes of carbon and simple carbon halides and sulfides, which are usually considered to be inorganic.
The "C-H" definition excludes compounds which are historically and practically considered to be organic. Neither urea nor oxalic acid are organic by this definition, yet they were two key compounds in the vitalism debate. The IUPAC Blue Book on organic nomenclature specifically mentions urea and oxalic acid. Other compounds lacking C-H bonds that are also traditionally considered to be organic include benzenehexol, mesoxalic acid, and carbon tetrachloride. Mellitic acid, which contains no C-H bonds, is considered to be a possible organic substance in Martian soil. All do,...
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