In This Chapter
Seeing the structures of alkanes
Analyzing the conformations of alkanes
Seeing alkane reactions
In this chapter, I cover the skeletons of organic molecules — the alkanes. Alkanes are the simplest organic molecules. Because they’re the simplest of the organic molecules, they’re useful for introducing several key principles in organic chemistry, such as isomerism (molecules with the same molecular formula but different structures), conformation (the different ways atoms can flex and bend), and stereochemistry (the orientation of atoms in three-dimensional space). Also, because alkanes make up the simplest organic molecules, they’re the best place to start honing your skills in nomenclature (the rules for naming organic molecules).
It’s just as important to be able to determine the structure from a name as it is to be able to determine the name of a structure. Although English reads from left to right, the best way to read a structure’s name is from right to left. For example, if you want to draw the structure for 4-t-butyl-2,3,5-trimethylheptane, you would start by first drawing the parent chain — heptane. ...