Isomerism Essay

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In order to better understand the concept of isomerism, it is good to begin at the root of the word itself. Isomerism can be broken down from ancient Greek language. In Greek, iso means “same”, while meros translates to “part.” From this, one can deduce that isomerism is a concept associated with similar parts. Essentially, isomerism in chemistry is defined as having two or more molecules containing the same number and kind of atoms, but differing in structure and/or function. Today, one can learn about several types of isomers that are highly important in our world. Isomerism is considered to be a great advance in our understanding of chemistry, especially organic chemistry. But how is it that this concept came to be a part of science?
The discovery of other more simple concepts associated with isomerism can be dated back to the late 1700s, when a breakthrough in the isolation of a few pure substances occurred. This work was accredited to Carl Wilhelm Scheele, a Swedish-German pharmaceutical chemist, who was able to isolate pure substances that came from the study of animal and vegetable chemistry. His accomplishments lead to the discovery of a variety of organic compounds, each with its own elemental composition. As the years went by and more organic compounds were discovered, several different compounds with the same elemental composition were identified. It was not however, until 1830 that Thomas Thomson, a Scottish chemist and mineralogist from the University of Edinburgh whose work contributed to the expansion of the Dalton atomic theory, brought the question of this concept to the world’s attention. After studying and observing an earlier scientist’s, who went by the name of Berzelius who is one of the founders of modern chemistry attending Uppsala University, and whose work included the isolation of organic compounds, Thomson realized the occurrence of several acids that contained the same number and kind of elements, but carried out completely different chemical structures and functions. He drew in his journal named “History of Chemistry,” the different structures for each molecule and proceeded to recognize that the explanation for this concept was undoubtedly beyond his era and understanding. From that point on, it was believed that these organic compounds could only be found with the idea of vitalism. This meant that they only existed inside living organisms and not in other parts of our natural world. It was not until the nineteenth century that the idea of vitalism was declined by the breakthrough research of Friedrich Wöhler. Friedrich Wöhler was a German chemist born in 1800 who studied at both the Phillipps University of Marburg and the Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg. His pioneer research earned him credit in the concept of isomerization. In the year 1828, Wöhler was able to synthesize urea found in animal urine from the inorganic compound ammonium cyanate. Basically in the end he was able to obtain two of the same...

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