Letter | Published:

Conception of Synthesis in Organic Chemistry

    Naturevolume 134page700 (1934) | Download Citation



    MY opinion is in no way altered by Prof. Ruzicka's comments. When Prof. Ruzicka has succeeded in preparing epidihydrocholesterol from carbon, hydrogen and oxygen (or from some compound which can be shown to be capable of artificial formation from these elements), I shall endeavour to be the first to congratulate him on having synthesised the male sex hormone (androsterone). I am not concerned with the question whether the transformation of the sterol into the hormone involves a building up or a breaking down of the molecule. The main issue, in my view, is that the term synthesis cannot be justified, either by definition (see, for example, Bailey and Bailey: “An Etymological Dictionary of Chemistry and Mineralogy”, 1929) or by common usage, as a description of the conversion into another substance of a compound of purely natural origin. I am sure that the great majority of chemists will agree with this point of view.

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