In This Chapter
Understanding multistep synthesis problems
Discovering tips for working multistep synthesis problems
Multistep synthesis problems are prevalent throughout organic chemistry — and they tend to show up more and more frequently as the course goes on. Many students cite these problems, along with mechanism problems, as the most difficult types in the course. This appendix details why people bother with multistep synthesis and gives several commandments for how to work these kinds of problems so that you can avoid committing the major multistep synthesis sins.
A good illustration of the importance of organic synthesis is drug making. Throughout history, drugs have primarily been obtained from natural sources. The kings of Mesopotamia smoked poppy flowers to get high on the hallucinogenic properties of the opium alkaloids, Native Americans chewed aspirin-containing willow bark for pain relief, and Fleming discovered penicillin in a mold that grew on his Staphylococcus bacteria plates. Even today, natural product chemists extract compounds from living things, characterize them, and test them to see if those compounds have biological activity.
But extracting drugs from natural sources has its problems. ...