Stereochemistry

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Stereochemistry, a subdiscipline of chemistry, involves the study of the relative spatial arrangement of atoms within molecules.

It includes methods for determining and describing these relationships, as well as their effect on the physical or biological properties that these relationships impart upon the molecules in question.

Pasteur could rightly be described as the first stereochemist, having observed that salts of tartraric acid collected from wine production vessels could rotate plane polarized light, but that salts from other sources did not. This property, the only physical property in which the two types of tartrate salts differed, is due to optical isomerism.