Which branches of chemistry and in what order to learn (self study)?

Hi I have decided to give chemistry another shot (it didn't take so well way back in high school). My main interest is for reading up on brain chemistry and pharmacology.

I currently have a textbook on inorganic chemistry [Introduction to Organic Chemistry 3rd edition: William Brown.Thomas Poon] that I picked up and am working my way through - well I have made it through chapter 1 at least [Covalent Bonding and Shapes of Molecules]. And am also making use of The UC Davis (Organic) ChemWiki.

So after finishing the chapter today I decided to take a break and play around with an experiment I sore on youtube to make copper nanoparticles using copper sulphate and ascorbic acid. In the video he was pretty lenient with the measurements [1g sulphate, 5g ascorbic, 200ml water] and I wanted to scale the reaction up a bit so I had a go at trying to figure what the reaction was so I could get the true ratio... Obviously that duck wouldn't fly (I am only just starting on chapter 2 after all) so I just went ahead and multiplied his recipe by a factor of 5.

So where I was going with that last paragraph is that even after I finish reading the organic chem textbook I'm not seeing how that's going to help me with something like $CuSO_4.5H_2O$ since i'ts got nothing to do with carbon. Should I put the organic book to the side and start of with something like the (Inorganic) ChemWiki? Is it necessary to go through both of them or would it be enough to learn one subject and fill the gaps as there encountered [this exercise is a personal mission - I don't envision any possible future where I become a full fledged working chemist]? Better yet are there any broader texts that teaches a unified chemistry that doesn't make artificial distinctions? Or should I go ahead and invent my own syllabus?

Any short-cuts would be greatly appreciated - I basically just want to get to a point where I can read a wikipedia page on neurotransmitter X, psychoactive Y, or food ingredient Z and be able to comprehend fully what is going on.

• Organic chemistry is a second your course, so it assumes you have some knowledge of chemistry. I would suggest you find a senior high school, or first year collage course to start with. – LDC3 Mar 29 '14 at 22:17

"brain chemistry and pharmacology" Organic chemiisry, biochemistry; inorganic for foundation - pH, equilibrium, reduction and oxidation. You'll need some physical chemistry, classical thermodynamics, to appreciate what should happen (thermodynamics) and what does happen (kinetics). Diamond (the denser phase) is unstable versus graphite at room pressure, and calculably so,

Diamond is stable to 1000 C in air, 1500 C under hydrogen. CVD diamond is made in vacuum. Know where Official Truth has footnotes. You must be conversant with species, ions, molecules, reactions before you touch organic (which is all that plus wickedly structural).

Look at the Khan Academy. Begin with inorganic chemistry.
And then organic. Use LCAO to understand geometry, structure, hybridization, reactions. LCAO is wholly ad hock and, point of fact, is wrong. It sill works - splendidly. Molecular orbitals are irrelevant until Woodward-Hoffmann.

Hint: The folks who drool advocacy the loudest are clueless about the science, thereby not willfully lying. Government is corrupt, ignorant, and mean. Industry is all that plus desperate.

If you want to play with organic, buy HyperChem Lite. Diddle the molecule together, add hydrogens (drop down menu), assign atom types (same menu), then minimize to at least ten times the recommended iterations plus much smaller acceptable error. Learn how to see into stereograms (HyperChem genertes them, Display/Rendering). 2D representations get sloppy real fast,

• Organic chemistry is a second your course, so it assumes you have some knowledge of chemistry. I would suggest you find a senior high school, or first year collage course to start with. – LDC3 Mar 29 '14 at 22:13
• Your answer is a little convoluted. – LDC3 Mar 29 '14 at 22:16
• I forgot all about khanacadamy! good tip - ill just have to fast forward through some of the sections since the sites style can sort of drag on sometimes (have used it in the past for mathmatical stuff). Having the molecular CAD in front of me will help also thanks for the tips [no you didn't scare me off ;) ] – norlesh Mar 30 '14 at 5:03
• To do a job you need good tools. To supervise a job you need good people who need good tools. Somebody must be competent. Competence is knowing and successfully doing. Add efficiency (engineering) and you have beauty. Beauty needs no excuses. – Uncle Al Mar 30 '14 at 15:02

I agree with LDC3 that inorganic chemistry should definitely be your starting point; it builds foundations that apply to all of chemistry, which is why they teach it first; organic chemistry is just a branch, albeit a very large one, of chemistry that can also be very interesting once you know the fundamentals. Unfortunately using conventional textbooks etc, you will most likely be constricted to this order of learning, because of the level of these courses in the education system, where inorganic chemistry is very traditionally taught first, with organic chemistry only afterwards.

Any short-cuts would be greatly appreciated - I basically just want to get to a point where I can read a wikipedia page on neurotransmitter X, psychoactive Y, or food ingredient Z and be able to comprehend fully what is going on.

I don't know if there are any shortcuts that you are seeking, Wikipedia can be pretty advanced because it is (usually) written by experts who know exactly what they're talking about; and especially on those high-level concepts, there are a lot of "things" (for lack of a better word) that you have to already know to understand fully what the big picture is. Trying to pick and choose would be maybe even more time-consuming than learning things in a progressive order.

Even though this sounds pessimistic, learning chemistry can be rewarding if you work at it, not to mention you have this site and tons of other online resources to help you out along the way.

-Best of luck should you choose to continue, and I hope you do!

• So the linear route it is then - thanks for your feedback and yes I will be continuing - expect more questions on the site once i have crawled through the basics :) – norlesh Mar 30 '14 at 5:06
• To ask further: I similarly want to read Wikipedia's pharma pages, having taken chem. I read through a little bit of OChem. Between that and pharma, I'm guessing there is biochem? What other books should i be looking at? – Script Kitty May 11 '18 at 3:24

I tell a true story about myself. In my senior year of college, I took as an elective, a course in Pre-engineering Physics. At that point in my studies, I had already taken a lot of math (Advanced Calculus, Linear Algebra, Statistics, Theory of Differential Equations,..., and even graduate-level credit in Numerical Analysis, Numerical Methods,...).

To my surprise, much of the latter was favorable to my mastering of the course material in physics.

Math has long been a building block for many sciences.

In the case of chemistry, such a math background is not immediately obvious. But, if you ever get to the more advanced research, you may feel remiss for not having taken a course in many of the above, or even topology.