The Emergence of the Structure of the Molecule and the Art of Its Synthesis
At the core of the science of chemistry lie the structure of the molecule, the art of its synthesis, and the design of function within it. These attributes elevate chemistry to an essential, indispensable, and powerful discipline whose impact on the life and materials sciences is paramount, undisputed, and expanding. Indeed, today the combination of structure, synthesis, and function is driving many scientific frontiers forward, including drug discovery and development, biology and biotechnology, materials science and nanotechnology, and molecular devices of all kinds. What connects structure and function is synthesis, whose flagship is total synthesis, the art of constructing the molecules of nature and their derivatives. The power of chemical synthesis at any given time is reflected and symbolized by the state of the art of total synthesis, and as such the condition and sophistication of the latter needs to be continuously nourished and advanced. In this review the understanding of the structure of the molecule, the emergence of organic synthesis, and the art of total synthesis are traced from the nineteenth century to the present day.