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The Dehydration of an Alcohol

Many people see chemistry as a dry subject. Perhaps the problem relates to presentation. Take the fundamental concept of the E1 elimination mechanism in organic synthesis, for example. In that reaction, acid is used to catalyze the loss of a water molecule from the alcohol, resulting in the formation of a double bond. It is the mechanism behind the conversion of ethyl alcohol to ethylene, for instance. 'How interesting!', you say. Okay, okay. How about if we make the story a bit more salacious?

The Dehydration of an Alcohol
(An Alternative View of the E1 Mechanism)

Dehydration goes not forth without some assist
From an acid acting in the role of catalyst.

A strong acid's proton is a cinch to displace
From the union 'twixt it and its conjugate base.

The unhappy marriage irreversibly dissolves
And a band of wolfish protons rapidly evolves.

One proton roaming about in the bath
Encounters an alcohol careening across its path.

As the hydroxyl group flashes by.
The oxygen winks an orb, a flirtatious eye.

She turns to expose an electron pair
And sensuously invites the proton to share.

Now, too many paramours cling to her skirt
So she leaves that old alkyl group, face flat, in the dirt.

In consummate bliss now, water goes free,
Guilty of theft in the 2nd degree.

Charged with emotion o'er so vicious a snub,
Carbon seeks consolation from within his own club.

PIous thoughts draw him nearer his carbon kin.
And with his neighbor does the forming of a second bond then begin.

And whence do these electrons come;
Those the neighbor shares with his deficient chum?

Why sitting out there in an overlapping lobe
Is a hydrogen, a mere proton, when disrobed!

Take its electron and be rid of the brute!
No time is too soon to give hydrogen the boot!

Considering what that type did to a friend
The day is long past for this covalency to end.

And with that rebuke, back into the vial
Goes another philandering electrophile.

You see...oxygen's promiscuity and hydrogen's prurient desires
And really the properties that fuel chemical fires.

The old story's too dry....lacks enough ardor.
The question is whether this one holds water?

(If you're a chemist then forgive me my use of the pun
and if you are not, well then..., no harm done.)

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