WHAT IS CHEMISTRY?
Chemistry is the science of matter.
Anything which has mass and occupies space is matter.
The word “chemistry” is derived from the Arabic word “Al-Kemia” which means the art of transformation.
Chemistry is the branch of science which deals with the study of matter, its composition, structure, properties, behavior, and the interaction of matter in the form of reactions.
- Chemistry has been practiced subconsciously by humans since the beginning of civilization.
- The history of chemistry spans from ancient history to the present-day world. Around 1000 BC, civilizations in different parts of the world were using technologies that would eventually become the basis for the evolution of branches of chemistry.
- Examples include extraction of metals from ores, production of glazes and pottery, fermentation of wine and beer, extraction of chemicals from plants for use as perfumes and medicinal purposes, production of soap from fat, making glass, and production of alloys e.g bronze.
- Alchemy, which was practiced by the Arabs, served as a protoscience to modern chemistry.
- Alchemists, by performing experiments and recording the results, set the stage for modern chemistry.
- Although Alchemy laid the basis for modern chemistry, it however was rendered unsuccessful in explaining the nature of matter and its transformations.
- The first major contribution to the field of chemistry was made by Jabir-Ibn-Hayyan who is regarded as the father of chemistry
- Jabir’s works contain the oldest known systematic classification of chemical substances and the oldest known instructions for deriving an inorganic compound from organic substances by chemical means.
- He also described various processes such as crystallization and distillation and is credited with the use of twenty different now-basic chemical laboratory equipment.
- The distinction between Chemistry and Alchemy came into play when a clear differentiation was provided by an English Philosopher, Robert Boyle in his book published under the name The Sceptical Chymist (1661).
- Robert Boyle set the stage for modern chemistry which over the years, through the contribution of various scientists, has become a major discipline in science and almost inseparable from human life.
IMPORTANCE OF CHEMISTRY
In the present day and age, chemistry is an indispensable part of our lives. Chemistry is the science of matter and matter is all around us in different forms. Every individual applies chemistry in the execution of his daily chores. From the toothpaste we use to brush our teeth to the yeast we use to raise our bread, all of our daily tasks are based on the principles of chemistry. Chemistry has its influence on every aspect of human life such as environment, healthcare, food, clothing, industries, transport, etc.
HEALTHCARE AND MEDICINE:
- It is due to the wonders of chemistry that we are now able to curb debilitating infections with drugs such as antibiotics, anti-virals.
- The diagnostic tests taking place in laboratories, prognostic estimations, medical prescriptions, drugs, the vaccines, the antibiotics playing a vital role in health monitoring, control of diseases, and in minimizing the sufferings of humanity are all established on the principles of chemistry.
- With the application of the knowledge of chemistry we have been able to eradicate smallpox from the world and have found the cure to malaria, a once deadly disease affecting nearly half of the world population.
INDUSTRIES AND TRANSPORT:
- Fuel and chemicals are the perks obtained from chemistry. Fuel is required for powering the industries.
- From cloth mills to leather factories to petrochemical industries and refineries to metal industries- all rely on fuel as a source for power generation and chemical products for further processing of their product in order to improve the quality of the product.
- Moreover, chemical effluent treatment plants use chemicals to neutralist the hazardous impact of pollutants produced by the industries.
- Fuel is also an important factor in the transport sector as all of our vehicles are operating on fuel.
- Chemistry has its applications in various other industries such as glass, paper, textile industries in the form of dyes, pigments, sugar, plastic, pharmaceuticals.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY:
- With the advancement of science came the deadly side effects of it as well.
- Modern warfare equipment i.e. weapons of mass-destruction (Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological weapons), explosives such as TNT, RDX pose a great threat to humanity with its side effects such as radiation, carcinogenic nature, heavy metal contamination, etc.
- Whereas the destructive power is generated as a result of series of chemical reactions, we also remain content that Chemistry has facilitated and devised chains of countermeasures too in the form of NBC resistant bunkers and safety suites.
- Forensic science, the detailed scientific analysis of material evidence for serving justice in the context of the law uses the knowledge of chemistry to facilitate crime investigation.
- Tele-communications, Information Technology, and Space Missions- all rest on the principles of chemistry in relation to semi-conductor sand nano-tube.
- Chemistry explains the processes leading to changing food as we cook it, the process of rotting, how to preserve food, how the food we eat is utilized by our body, and how various ingredients interact to make food.
- Due to the invention of preservatives, we are now able to increase the shelf life of various condiments and sell food items in containers in areas remote to the production site without any compromise on quality and taste.
CONSERVATION OF ENVIRONMENT:
- Chemistry lands at the center of environmental issues.
- What are the properties responsible for making one chemical a nutrient and another chemical a pollutant? What are the measures we can adapt in order to clean up the environment? What processes can produce the articles we require without causing harm to the environment? All of these problems are solved with the application of principles of chemistry.
- Nowadays chemists are trying their level best to introduce environmentally friendly alternatives such as biodegradable plastic or the replacement of CFCs in the refrigerators.
SCOPE OF CHEMISTRY
- Since chemistry is the science of matter and matter is all around us therefore everything having mass and occupying space comes in the scope of chemistry.
- The days are long gone when one individual could hope to have a detailed knowledge of all disciplines of chemistry.
- Nowadays chemistry encompasses even the slightest condiments of life to the complex reactions occurring in a nuclear reactor.
- In order to efficiently study the scope of chemistry, many areas of specialization emerged early in the history of chemistry, such as organic, inorganic, physical, analytical, and industrial chemistry, along with biochemistry, remaining at the greatest general interest.
- There has been, however, much development in the areas of environmental, polymer, and medicinal chemistry during the 1900s.
- Moreover, new specialties continue to emerge such as forensic, pesticide, and computational chemistry.
- Chemistry serves as a central science for various other disciplines. In geology, we apply the principles of chemistry while studying rocks.
- Rocks are composed of atoms, and the chemical composition of soil and stone determine properties such as hardness, erosion, and other physical qualities that provide shape to the landscape.
- In geology, as well as archaeology and many other fields, the gradual chemical changes that occur in radioactive elements enable carbon-dating techniques that have revolutionized our understanding of the past.
- Chemistry also encompasses the fields of medicine and biochemistry. Finely-balanced chemical reactions, such as hormone synthesis and similar processes, regulate the health of our bodies.
- Understanding and treatment of various health issues rely on the chemical understanding of what is occurring in the body.
- In order to treat a patient effectively, tests must be conducted in the lab which is based on chemical reactions occurring among reagents and the samples under test.
- From bandages to mental health, from medications to blood plasma, chemistry is taken as a critical element to medicine and biochemistry.
- chemistry makes it possible to have a more complete understanding when combined with the fields of engineering and material science.
- That’s because atoms serve as building blocks for every material and the properties of any material are determined by the interaction among atoms.
- The fundamental chemistry of each element determines properties such as surface qualities, strength, combustibility, etc.