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The CP Molecule Labyrinth_A Paradigm of How Endeavors in Total Synthesis Lead to Discoveries and Inventions in Organic Synthesis

'The CP Molecule Labyrinth_A Paradigm of How Endeavors in Total Synthesis Lead to Discoveries and Inventions in Organic Synthesis'
1. Prologue ?Athens had been at war with Crete. Although the war was over, Minos (King of Crete), ruled the seas and Athens had to pay an awful tribute as a condition for peace. Minos sought revenge for the death of his son and demanded that every nine years the Athenians send him fourteen of their children–7 girls and 7 boys. Once in Crete, the young men and women were sent into the maze-like labyrinth to face the deadly Minotaur who was half man, half bull. Each year the children were selected by lot, and as all of Athens mourned they set sail for Crete on a ship with black sails. Theseus, the son of Aegeus (King of Athens), was very brave and had had many adventures already. Theseus resolved to become one of the young men chosen, so that he might slay the Minotaur and put an end to the horrible sacrifice. Aegeus reluctantly agreed to let Theseus go, and asked that Theseus change the sails to white for the journey home if he was successful in his plan to kill the Minotaur. When the fourteen arrived in Crete, they were entertained at the enormous and colourful palace of Minos. The next day, they were to be sent into the intricate mazes of the labyrinth, home of the deadly Minotaur, from which there was no escape. That night at dinner, listening to the exploits and adven- tures of Theseus, Ariadne–daughter of King Minos–fell in love with him. Not wanting to see Theseus killed, Ariadne vowed to find a way to help him. The next morning, as they The CP Molecule Labyrinth: A Paradigm of How Endeavors in Total Synthesis Lead to Discoveries and Inventions in Organic Synthesis K. C. Nicolaou* and Phil S. Baran Dedicated to Mrs. Niki Goulandris for her outstanding contributions to humanity and Planet Earth on the occasion of the opening of the GAIA Center for Environmental Research and Education at the Goulandris Natural History Museum in Athens, Greece. Imagine an artist carving a sculpture from a marble slab and finding gold nuggets in the process. This thought is not a far-fetched description of the work of a synthetic chemist pursuing the total synthesis of a natural product. At the end of the day, he or she will be judged by the artistry of the final work and the weight of the gold discovered in the process. However, as colorful as this description of total synthesis may be, it does not entirely capture the essence of the endeavor, for there is much more to be told, especially with regard to the contrast of frustrating failures and exhilarating moments of discovery. To fully appreciate the often Herculean nature of the task and the rewards that accompany it, one must sense the details of the enterprise behind the scenes. A more vivid de- scription of total synthesis as a struggle against a tough opponent is perhaps appropriate to dramatize these ele- ments of the experience. In this article we describe one such endeavor of total synthesis which, in addition to reaching the target molecule, resulted in a wealth of new synthetic strategies and techno
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