Dear Stan,
I would not insert an 'organic realm' in the hierarchy: it is part of
the chemical realm, but it is broader than expected.
The rules of Organic Chemistry are not universal as the theorems of
mathematics are: many exceptions exist, at least due to the existence
of multifunctional compounds. Even increasing the length of an alkyl
chain can give surprising results. It is why patents covering
syntheses of an infinite number of compounds should never have been
accepted, although they were. At the occasion of a course, we learned
the main rules needed to face to the realm of Organic Chemistry, but
the complexity of structural formulas we face (often natural products)
is incredibly vast, and each year we discover more. In parallel,
Organic Chemists establish new syntheses and reactions, and the
catalog of rules we have is now too large to be likely known by only
one Organic Chemist.
But compared to Biology, even Organic Chemistry remains "simple" !!
It means that we are as the midge trying to understand a computer: it
is unlikely that we will be successful.
But the challenge is so exciting, and we can take benefits from any
increase of knowledge.

2011/9/17 Stanley N Salthe <>:
> Michel -- Organic chemistry was known to be the most difficult course in
> Columbia University.  But I got interested in it, worked very hard
> constantly, and I achieved an  'A'.  But what you say here indicates several
> orders of magnitude more difficulty than what I played with in university.
>  For me this raises a question about the 'realms of nature', as in the
> subsumptive hierarchy: {physical realm {chemical realm {biological realm}}.
>  Do you think one should place an 'organic realm' between chemical and
> biological?  Or, otherwise, do you think it possible that there might be
> organic realms out in the universe not entrained into biology?

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