Where has chemistry come from ? Throughout the history of the human
race, people have struggled to make sense of the world around them. Through
the branch of science we call chemistry we have gained an understanding of the
matter which makes up our world and of the interactions between particles on
which it depends. The ancient Greek philosophers had their own ideas of the
nature of matter, proposing atoms as the smallest indivisible particles. However,
although these ideas seems to fit with modern models of matter, so many other
Ancient Greek ideas were wrong that chemistry cannot truly be said to have
Alchemy was a mixture of scientific investigation and mystical quest, with
strands of philosophy from Greece, China, Egypt and Arabia mixed in. The main
aims of alchemy that emerged with time were the quest for the elixir of life (the
drinking of which would endue the alchemist with immortality), and the search
for the philosopher’s stone, which would turn base metals into gold. Improbable
as these ideas might seem today, the alchemists continued their quests for around
2000 years and achieved some remarkable successes, even if the elixir of life
and the philosopher’s stone never appeared.
Towards the end of the eighteenth century, pioneering work by Antoine
and Marie Lavoisier and by John Dalton on the chemistry of air and the atomic
... still stayed separated from inorganic chemistry. Back when Organic chemistry was the chemistry of living matter, Professor Wohler succeeded in synthesizing ... not only a focal point of organic chemistry, but an amazingly simple idea. It states that by grasping that ... . Nebergall, W.H., Schmidt, Frederic, Holtzclaw, and Henry. Chemistry: 6th Edition London: Pantheon, 1980. 28. Novosibirsk Institute of ...
nature of matter paved the way for modern chemistry. During the nineteenth
century chemists worked steadily towards an understanding of the relationships
between the different chemical elements and the way they react together. A great
body of work was built up from careful observation and experimentation until the
relationship which we now represent as the periodic table emerged. This brought
order to the chemical world, and from then on chemists have never looked back.
Modern society looks to chemists to produce, amongst many things, healing
drugs, pesticides and fertilisers to ensure better crops and chemicals for the many
synthetic materials produced in the twenty-first century. It also looks for an
academic understanding of how matter works and how the environment might
be protected from the source of pollutants. Fortunately, chemistry holds many of
the answers !