Chemistry is a word that many people know. However, there are not many who understand exactly what it means or what it entails. It is not easy to define sciences, especially ones that cover as much ground as chemistry. Even so, this article will deconstruct the chemistry definition to show it is not that difficult to figure out or define. You just need a bit of background information.
The Reactions and Makeup of Matter
Chemistry is the study of matter and its properties. It also covers how and why substances combine or separate to form other substances, as well as the way certain materials interact with energy. The field is a physical science that seeks to describe the world around us.
However, rather than looking at natural organisms like biology, it seeks to understand and classify the substances of which all matter is composed. Chemistry not only monitors such materials, but also seeks to use them to create new ones as well.
Though it is easy to think of chemists as the classic lab-coat laden doctors mixing liquids into beakers, the truth is that almost every profession needs chemistry is one way or another. In fact, you use chemistry every single day. Cooking, cleaning, eating, and even moving around require the science.
Chemistry is directly connected to matter, which is what makes up every single thing in our world. As a result, it is impossible to escape.
The Five Branches That Define Chemistry
As with most sciences, Chemistry is not one large entity. Rather, it is broken down into five distinct branches, each with its own focus, rules, and standards.
The first branch is analytical chemistry, which uses qualitative and quantitative observations to look at, measure, and analyze the physical and chemical properties of a substance. While you could argue this reflects all chemistry, it is unique because it is extremely technical when compared to other branches.
Next there is physical chemistry. This field mixes chemistry and physics to create a better understanding of the universe. It is important to remember that no science exists independently. Almost all of them interact with another. Physical chemistry is a prime example of that.
Physical chemists study the way matter and energy interact with each other. There are several fields that use that connection, but two of the biggest are thermodynamics and quantum mechanics.
Where physical chemistry blends chemistry with physics, organic chemistry blends it with biology. This style of chemistry looks at any compounds that contain carbon. As the element is one of the basic building blocks of al organisms, this branch is often called the “Chemistry of Life.” This branch is a key part of advanced biology and is used by researchers across numerous fields.
In contrast, the next branch of chemistry, inorganic chemistry, looks at any materials that do not have carbon. This includes substances such as metal or gas.
The final branch of chemistry is biochemistry, which expands on organic chemistry. Biochemistry directly studies and analyzes the chemical processes that happen within living organisms. This process is a large part of biology and bleeds into several different fields.
Chemistry’s Practical Applications
When defining basic chemistry, it helps to look at how it’s used in our world. Chemistry in school mainly focuses on math and logic. Though that is part of the science, in a much broader sense it is how things work.
For example, chemistry is used in cooking to explain how food changes as its heated, what happens when it is prepared, and why it goes bad. The study of rotting food to develop better storage and preservation is chemistry, as is mixing two different ingredients together.
This science is also used in cleaning and medicine. Cleaning products, from dish soap to shampoo to bleach, are all chemistry at work. Modern medicine would also not be able to work without the study of chemistry.
Doctors need to know how chemistry works so they can understand how vitamins, supplements, and drugs can help or harm you. Anytime you are given a vaccine or undergo surgery, you can thank chemistry for keeping you safe. In this way, it is easy to see what makes the science so important.
Understanding the Interactions of Matter
In a certain way, chemistry is the study of everything. The field encompasses many different sub-categories and mixes with just about every other large science. Understanding matter is vital to the modern world, especially as technology continues to advance and grow with each passing year.
We use chemistry every single day without thinking about it. Even breathing or walking down the street use chemical processes to work. As a result, you no longer need to ask “what is chemistry?” By reading this guide, you now know.