Life is based on carbon
All life forms require certain core chemical elements needed for biochemical functioning. These include carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur − the elemental macronutrients for all organisms. The most biologically abundant of these elements is carbon, which has the desirable attribute of forming multiple, stable covalent bonds. This allows carbon-based (organic) molecules to form an immense variety of chemical arrangements.
Organic chemistry is a part of our lives at every moment. Organic molecules comprise the tissue of plants as mighty as the redwoods, convey signals from one neuron to the next in animals, store the genetic information of life, and are the food we eat each day. The growth of living things from microbes to elephants rests on organic reactions, and organic reactions provide the energy that drives our muscles and our thought processes.
Our lives depend on organic chemistry in many other ways as well. Every article of clothing we wear is a product of organic chemistry, whether the fibers are natural or synthetic. Hardly a minute goes by when we’re not using something made of organic molecules, such as a pen, a computer keyboard, a music player, or a cellular phone. We view display screens made of organic liquid crystal arrays. Natural organic polymers comprise wood and the paper we read. Natural and synthetic organic molecules enhance our health. There is not a single aspect of our lives that is not in some way dependent on organic chemistry. But what is organic chemistry? Organic chemistry is the chemistry of compounds that contain the element carbon. Clearly, carbon compounds are central to life on this planet. Carbon as an element, however, has its origin elsewhere.