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January 16, 1904


JAMA. 1904;XLII(3):177-178. doi:10.1001/jama.1904.02490480039008

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Prior to 1828 chemists made a sharp distinction between organic and inorganic compounds, it being supposed that the latter are capable of preparation in the laboratory, while the former are formed only in the living organism, animal or vegetable, under the influence of a particular force—the life force. This view was rendered untenable by Wohler's discovery that urea, a typical secretion of the animal organism, can be prepared synthetically from cyanic acid and ammonia, two inorganic compounds. Many other "organic" compounds, such as acetic acid, lactic acid, glycerin and sugar have since been made synthetically, and as our knowledge of chemistry increased the old idea about a vital force has lost greatly in significance. We know now that the same chemical forces act both in the organic and inorganic worlds. It is well known that most of the vanilla extract now found on the market is not derived from the

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