Organic Chemistry Is Made Up

Written by: Micah Gilbert and Madeline Mozafari

By Ester Hexagon Polly Ethylene Glycol
CHEM 40B student

I simply cannot do it anymore. I cannot suspend my belief in the way of the world and pretend that I understand what the hell an electron is. They don’t interact with light in a way that allows us to see them, kind of like how our professors don’t interact with the logic behind what they teach us. I’ll say that maybe we can use the Bohr model once or twice. Circles! It’s so easy! But valence shell electron pair repulsion theory?? I’ll say — it sure repulses me. I think if we’re studying something we can’t even see, we should have a bit more to go on than “carbon wants four bonds, oxygen doesn’t mind a negative charge, and you are beholden to organic chemistry because it is what makes living things living.”

I got through gen chem. I took BILD 1-4. I have even taken CSE 8A and 8B. This is where I draw the line, over and over, because of these stupid fucking carbon-carbon bonds. Are covalent bonds even real? Or are these carbons just a bunch of whores? Every Tuesday and Thursday, I go to York Hall and I sit and watch as my professor relays the supposed “knowledge of the universe” onto our meek, mortal, student souls. This guy wrote the textbook too, so I guess I’m just trusting him on literally everything.

He always talks about how all of these reactions are going on in our bodies right now, but he never tells us why. Molecules are not sentient. They cannot be made happy or unhappy based on “charges” and “energy levels.” They don’t know if another pair of electrons will make them more stable! Neither do the electrons. So that begs the question: who is controlling this shit? Who decides what bonds to create and which ones to cleave? Why are the enzymes doing what they do? If organic chemistry is what makes me, and there’s a force behind it that makes the reactions happen, then how can I have any control at all? Do I have free will, or am I bound to what happens based on where the electrons decide to go? But even electrons lack volition! Is it possible that one atom of hydrogen is the cause of a bad decision I made last week? Do I have any agency at all? How exactly do these molecules — that know nothing and do nothing — make all living things? What is living? What is learning? The molecules in my brain are helping me learn about molecules — so is it molecules all the way down? Do atoms bond with a bang or a whimper? And how on Earth am I supposed to figure out how the electrons are moving around in human soup with no cheat sheet for the Saturday final?

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