Lecture 22 - Radical and Type Theories (1832-1850)

Freshman Organic Chemistry I

Yale

Work by Woehler and Liebig on benzaldehyde inspired a general theory of organic chemistry focusing on so-called radicals, collections of atoms which appeared to behave as elements and persist unchanged through organic reactions. Liebig's French rival, Dumas, temporarily advocated radicals, but converted to the competing theory of types which could accommodate substitution reactions. These decades teach more about the psychology, sociology, and short-sightedness of leading chemists than about fundamental chemistry, but both theories survive in competing schemes of modern organic nomenclature. The HOMO-LUMO mechanism of addition to alkenes and the SOMO mechanism of free-radical chain reactions are introduced.

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