Science: Savants in St. Louis

By last week the gap between living and nonliving things was so narrow as to be almost nonexistent. A century ago the demarcation between organic and inorganic matter was sharp. It grew hazy when chemists began to make com pounds artificially. They found that hydrocyanic acid, simply standing in water, gives rise to urea and other substances found in living tissues. Now that thousands of organic compounds have been synthesized, it is chemical custom to call "organic" any compound, however formed, that contains carbon, since carbon is a notable component of plants and...

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