Chemistry is the study of matter, its changes, composition, properties and the changes it undergoes. Inasmuch as this definition of chemistry will suffice, a singular definition of chemistry will leave one lacking in a true understanding of what chemistry is and/or what a chemist does. In fact, chemistry is everywhere and we are all chemists with varying degrees of awareness and skill. This is true because chemistry encompasses virtually every aspect of our daily lives. It is the science that provides a connection between all of the natural sciences—biology, physics, chemistry and geology. For this reason, chemistry is often referred to as the "central science".
The history of chemistry spans almost 3000 years and it begins with the Greek philosophers of antiquity in around 600 BCE. The earliest Greek philosophers believed that the earth consisted of essentially 4 elements--earth, air, wind and fire. Aristotle was a chief proponent of this idea and added a fifth element that he called "aether". The ancient Greeks believed that all of the universe consisted of these elements in varying amounts.
The notion of an indivisible particle (an atom) began with Democritus who, unlike most Greek philosophers, did not believe in the continuity of matter. (eg; The notion that matter can be infinitely subdivided.) The term "atomos", which means "indivisible" was born of this notion.
The next 2000 years of chemistry were marked by the various quests and aspirations of the alchemists, one of which was the ability to change baser metals (such as lead or iron) into gold. While they never achieved the power of transmuting metals, alchemists were successful at gaining some understanding of the elements, their chemical properties as well as their chemical reactivities.
By the 1700s, scientists like Joseph Priestley, John Dalton, Antoine Lavoisier (often referred to as the "father of modern chemistry") made great strides to transformchemistry from a mixture of philosophy and sorcery into the legitimate scientific discipline we know today. They did so by solidifying the notions that:
By the mid 1800s to the early 1900s, scientists like Williams Crookes, JJ Thomson, and Ernest Rutherford, Niels Bohr, Albert Einstein and Irwin Schrödinger were well on their way to discovering the secrets of the atom--the internal structure as well as the features of the subatomic particles contained therein. Around the same time period, the knowledge gained by contemporary scientists led to discoveries of how the atom, once thought to be indivisible, could be split in a process called fission. This discovery marked the age of nuclear chemistry, which was both promising in the benefits it offered mankind and terrifying in its ability to annihilate all life on the planet.
Because chemistry is the central science, it plays an important role in many other related scientific fields. The following occupations all require chemistry either as a major or a component of a general course load.Physicians
In addition to preparing an individual for these occupations, studying chemistry will help students understand the technological world--and in so doing, allows the student to make better choices for the future.
Moodle is an "object-oriented" learning management system (LMS) designed to create "social-constructivist" learning experiences. It has been used by educators around the world since 2002
Kgreenchemistryonline.com is a website designed to support mastery learning for students taking chemistry at Nyack High School. It is maintained by K. Green, a chemistry teacher at Nyack High School. On this site, the following can be found: