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Letter from Peter Janse Van Vuuren to Joshua Lederberg

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Department of Chemistry Potchefstroom University fur Christian Higher Education TELEPHONE 3361 . POTCHEFSTROOM . SOUTH AFRICA Prof. Joshua Lederberg, Department of Genetics, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, United States of America. Your reference Our reverence Date PJvV/MF 16 August 1973 Dear Prof. Lederberg, Thank you very much for your kind letter of May 29th requesting a copy of the lab experiment on Isomerism in Organic Chemistry. Please accept my apologies for not having been able to respond earlier to your request, as I have returned from an extensive visit to your country only recently. I would like to make a few comments regarding the enclosed experiment: 1. I do believe that as far as the students are concerned, the key to the un= derstanding of the various facets of isomerism is to be found in a logi= cal classification of the various groups of isomers in an integrated but hierarchical fashion based on the differences in detailed structural fea= tures and/or the relative energies require&to convert one of a pair of isomeric structures into the other. Such a classification is regretta= bly lacking in the treatment of this subject in organic textbooks - in fact, the fragmentary presentation of isomerism is probably adding towards the confusion of the student in this matter. The classification scheme at the back of page 2 represents such an attempt. Let me hasten to add that I am not at all satisfied with this scheme, although it did prove most helpful and useful in our presentation of isomerism to the students. During this attempt, I have come to the conclusion that there still seems to be scope for incorporating new subgroups into the main group of stereo= isomerism. A typical example is represented by the exo and endo-stereo= isomers, e.g. I and II: 2 Ideally, these isomers should be classified as belonging to a subgroup dif= fering only in the absolute configuration (not necessari

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