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In chemistry, an organic compound is generally any chemical compound that contains carbon. Due to the unique ability of carbon to concatenate (form chains with other carbon atoms), millions of organic compounds are known. Study of the properties and synthesis of organic compounds is the discipline known as organic chemistry. For historical reasons, a few classes of carbon-containing compounds (e.g., carbonates and cyanides), along with a handful of other exceptions (e.g., carbon dioxide), are not classified as organic compounds and are considered inorganic. This exclusion is based on tradition rather than scientific reasons and is somewhat arbitrary in character. No consensus exists among chemists on precisely which carbon-containing compounds are excluded, making the definition of an organic compound elusive. Although organic compounds only make up a small percentage of the Earth's crust, they are of central importance because all known life is based on organic compounds. Most synthetically produced organic compounds are ultimately derived from petrochemicals consisting mainly of hydrocarbons.
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