The life forms on this planet are based on the element carbon. In the nineteenth century it was thought that only living organisms could make carbon compounds, and so the study of carbon-based compounds became known as organic chemistry. Although many carbon compounds are made in the laboratory and by industrial processes, and therefore have nothing to do directly with living organisms, the term ‘organic chemistry’ is still synonymous with ‘carbon compounds’. Normally, the oxides of carbon and the carbonates are classified as ‘inanimate’ inorganic chemicals. There are many millions of different organic chemicals known – their number far exceeds the number of inorganic compounds. The influence of these compounds in our lives has been great in that they form the basis of not only our own existence but of drugs, pesticides, food additives, plastics, fuels, etc.