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Should I take Organic Chem?

  1. Mar 4, 2009 #1
    Hello,

    I am a physics undergrad...getting ready for my final semester this summer. I have to take a chemistry class (actually, anything above a first General Chemistry class). It just so happens that the ONLY such Chem class they offer (small school) during my final semester is Organic Chem 1.

    (On that note, my school has two versions of Org Chem, one being the dumbed down "Industrial Org. Chem", for engineers interested in polymers and stuff. Then there is "Org Chem 1", which is the first full blown Organic Chem for Chem majors, and supposedly pretty intense. Only one of them is being offered during my last term, which is the harder one)

    So my options are
    1) Take Organic Chem 1 (Which I've been advised not to, but they already agreed to let me into if I want)
    2) Take a Chem class out as a guest student.
    3) Both 1 and 2 ("fail-safe"!)
    4) Don't graduate. Who the hell cares about having a BS in physics anyway? I don't need a degree to sell T shirts on the beach...

    I actually do want to take the class, but it does scare me.

    So now that I'm done with my rant, is it a bad idea for physics majors to take hard core chemistry class? Any experiences or relevent stories?
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 4, 2009 #2

    Borek

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    If you don't feel like you are fluent in GenChem 101 trying Organic Chemistry can be traumatic.
     
  4. Mar 4, 2009 #3
    Gen Chem 1 was an easy A for me...but that was a long time ago and I probably am a little rusty by now. I guess part of the reason why it worries me is because the students that I talked to about it (chem majors) tell me that the class will bring me to my knees in tears (as it did them...apparently). May be partly due to the prof who teaches it (A guy that I met before while being a Lab rat for a physics professor - awesome/hilarious guy to talk to - but his students say he is quite demanding).

    I'm guess I'm trying to figure out whether I should pursue an outside chemistry class or risk it with this version of Org. Chem. I also wonder if it is a topic that I can "review" before hand so that I have some idea what's going on. Well, I suppose in theory you can do that with any topic...
     
  5. Mar 4, 2009 #4

    chemisttree

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    If you made it through thermo, you shouldn't have any problem with Organic I. You'll probably just fly through it. It doesn't hurt that the professor knows you and you think is an awesome hillarious guy. He sounds to be very approachable in your case.
     
  6. Mar 4, 2009 #5
    I'm almost through the Thermo & Stat Mech class now and doing pretty well (was much easier than Quantum Mech, I think). I take it there is a lot of thermo in Org chem?
     
  7. Mar 4, 2009 #6

    Borek

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    No, organic is completely different. Much lighter in terms of math (or should I write no math at all?), much heavier in terms of things to memorize. Doesn't mean it is only about memorizing, there are plenty of mechanisms that you have to visualise for yourself and understand them. In many cases they are pretty interesting in terms of what is happening to atoms/structure/configuration but awfully fuzzy when it comes to quantitative description.

    OK, there is no quantitative description, so it is not even fuzzy :wink:
     
  8. Mar 4, 2009 #7
    The organic chemistry course is very intense, time-consuming, and it has very little overlap or relevance with physics research. It is absolutely geared towards chemists - the main focus is synthetic techniques for research and industry. Your most useful option is a high-level physical chemistry course: not the lower level ones which introduce QM and thermodynamics (these will be redundant), but the higher level ones that deal with computational QC and spectroscopy. These are pretty fundamental and relevant subjects, and overlap significantly with physics.

    Nonsense.
     
  9. Mar 4, 2009 #8
    That sounds more like the Description of organic chem that I heard from the people around here (intense and time consuming). Organic Chem was not my first choice of class, but it is actually my only choice apart from trying to find a class to take somewhere else. We are a very small school (2500 total in opposite rotations, so only like 1200 students at a time). So the course offerings are only what they need for their chem students.

    It might have some (at least small) relevence to the company I have been interning at - we apparently will be developing vibrational spectrometers (FT-IR/ FT-Raman) for bio-detection sensors which of course involves interaction of light with various organic molecules.
     
  10. Mar 5, 2009 #9

    Borek

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    Spectroscopy... While organic chem won't hurt, some more QM will be probably more usefull.
     
  11. Mar 6, 2009 #10

    chemisttree

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    Not much thermo in Organic Chem unless you count the energy diagrams you will examine. You should have an intuitive feel for about half of the course. The other half isn't too much different than the level of effort you put in to your thermo/stats. class. You also mentioned that the intro Chem course was an easy A for you. It sounds like you will also ace Organic I. Here is one Syllabus I found for Organic I.

    ...and another...

    ...and...

    Most students get hung up on chirality and reaction mechanisms. Can you handle things in 3D? Can you remember stuff?

    I wouldn't worry.
     
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