What Is Chemistry?
Chemistry is the branch of physical science that deals with the composition, properties, nature, structure and change of matter. Many scientists consider Chemistry to be the ‘Central Science’- the most important of all the sciences, since it serves as the interface to practically all of the other sciences. It is also central to all areas of human endeavour.
Think- man could not have landed on the moon, were it not for the ultra-sophisticated, high-resistance material used to build the space rocket that could withstand the tremendous amount of heat released and the pressure needed to break the atmospheric barrier. And how was that material created? Through intricate knowledge of the Chemistry of matter and the changes that they undergo, through the formation of highly complex substances from simpler ones, that’s how.
Even the fuel that is used in space rockets is a product of Chemistry. In short, Chemistry is fundamental to the success of any effort undertaken by man towards progress. Why, even fire, without which we wouldn’t be where we are today, is a product of complex chemical reactions!
Chemistry In Daily Life
What does the average person imagine when they hear the word ‘Chemistry’? Most probably, a mad scientist in a lab, mixing stuff in bubbling beakers and test-tubes, isn’t it? That’s how ignorant the common person is about what really constitutes Chemistry.
The fact is that Chemistry is all around us in our daily life. The toothpaste, soap and shampoo without which our daily ablutions are not complete, the salt, sugar, oil that mother uses to make our meals delicious, the cheerful hues and soft materials of the clothes we wear- in fact, everything in our lives exists as a result of the knowledge of Chemistry.
You encounter chemistry every day without even realizing it. Do you know that the processes of digestion, circulation, respiration etc. are itself is a series of complex chemical reactions? Yes, even the human body makes use of chemistry at a fundamental level! Cooking of food is also a chemical change which alters the nature and taste of food.
Computer chips are made of Carbon and Silicon, the lead of the pencil you write with is made from graphite, the medicines you gulp down to get rid of fever are also a result of Chemistry and its vast applications in daily life. Chemistry touches our lives in ways we do not even realize.
Here are a few common items of daily use that are actually chemical compounds created in nature or in laboratories (as the case may be)-
- Common salt, used in cooking- Sodium Chloride NaCl
- Baking powder, used in baking- Sodium Bicarbonate, NaHCO3
- Mouthwash, used for oral hygiene- Hydrogen peroxide, H2O2
- Caustic Soda, used for cleaning solutions- Sodium Hydroxide NaOH
- Milk of Magnesium, used as a laxative, antacid- Magnesium Hydroxide, Mg(OH)2
- Plaster of Paris, used as a building material, in plasters for healing fractures, Hydrated Calcium Sulphate, 2CaSO4.H2O
- Moth balls, used as a pesticide, 1,4-dichlorobenzene, C6H4Cl2;