Emil Fischer is considered by many to be the greatest organic chemist to ever live. His problem was that he created a way of looking at organic molecules that is very confusing to undergraduates. These structures are necessary to learn and are very helpful when looking at certain molecules (such as carbohydrates), but they are also very easy to jumble. This is because Fischer structures are drawn as crosses, which could lead one to erroneously think that the central carbon is flat, when it is actually still tetrahedral.
The easiest way to look at these is to think of them as bowties that have been strung together:
3-dimensionally speaking, the substituents that are on the sides of the structure are depicted at the end of the bowtie and are represented as “coming out of the paper”. The backbone is composed of dashed lines, which are meant to represent that those portions “are going into the paper”. This is now a much easier way to view these structures, as it is more apparent what area each substituent occupies.
The useful part of the bowtie projection is that it is now easier to assess the stereochemistry at each chiral center. It should be much easier to visualize that the bottom chiral center is “R”. This was not as obvious when viewing the Fischer projection as a cross
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