What is Chemistry: Definition, Topics, & History

Student Progress / Chemistry

While many people associate chemistry with laboratory tests, food additives, and dangerous substances, the field of chemistry encompasses everything. Chemistry is the study of matter and the changes when exposed to various environments and conditions. Chemists look into the substances, level of atoms and molecules and analyze interactions between them. Even if you are not a chemist, you’re doing chemistry. Read more to know why.

What is chemistry?

Chemistry is the study of matter. The matter is anything that has mass and takes up space. It also studies the properties of matter and changes that it undergoes when it is put through different environments and conditions. It is also a branch of science, specifically natural science, that deals with the properties of substances, the changes it undergoes, and the natural laws that explain these changes. Chemistry seeks to understand not only the properties of matter, like mass or composition, and how and why matter changes — whether something transforms due to combining with another substance, freezing for two weeks, or changing colors due to too much sunlight.

What is the history of chemistry?

In the 1600s, people began studying chemistry as a science. Chemical elements were first defined as simple, fundamental substances by a British scientist named Robert Boyle in 1661. In the 1770s, a French chemist named Antoine Lavoisier made significant contributions to the understanding chemical reactions. In the early 1800s, John Dalton, a British chemist, discovered that each element has its own type of atom. Throughout the 1800s, other chemists discovered numerous new elements. Later, chemists continued to make atomic discoveries.


Who is the Father of Chemistry?

Antoine Lavoisier, a French chemist, is considered the Father of Modern Chemistry. He has been dubbed for this recognition because of his emphasis on careful experimentation. His notable contributions were establishing that oxygen was a critical combustion component and giving the element its name. He also invented the modern system of chemical substance classification.


What are the branches of chemistry?

There are many branches of chemistry, but five are considered to be the main branches. And under each branch, there are more subdisciplines of chemistry. The five main disciplines of chemistry are the following:

  1. Analytical Chemistry. It is the study of matter’s chemistry and the development of tools for measuring matter’s properties. Quantitative and qualitative analysis, separations, extractions, distillation, spectrometry and spectroscopy, chromatography, and electrophoresis all fall under analytical chemistry.
  2. Biochemistry. Biochemistry is the scientific study of chemical processes occurring within living organisms. Proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, lipids, pharmaceuticals, and neurotransmitters are all examples of key molecules. Occasionally, this field is regarded as a subfield of organic chemistry.
  3. Inorganic Chemistry. It is the study of inorganic compounds, or those lacking a carbon-hydrogen bond. While a few inorganic compounds do contain carbon, the majority do not. Ionic compounds, organometallic compounds minerals, cluster compounds, and solid-state compounds are of interest to inorganic chemists.
  4. Organic Chemistry. Carbon is the subject of study, as are its compounds. It is the study of life’s chemistry and the reactions that take place within living organisms. Organic chemistry may include the study of organic reactions, the structure and properties of organic molecules, polymers, pharmaceuticals, and fuels.
  5. Physical Chemistry. A branch of chemistry that applies physics to the study of chemistry, most commonly by incorporating thermodynamics and quantum mechanics into the study of chemistry.

Organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, analytical chemistry, and physical chemistry are the five main branches of chemistry.


What are the other branches of chemistry?

Chemistry can be further broken down into various categories, such as the following.

  1. Astrochemistry
  2. Chemical Kinetics
  3. Electrochemistry
  4. Green Chemistry
  5. Geochemistry
  6. Nuclear Chemistry
  7. Polymer Chemistry
  8. Quantum Chemistry
  9. Radiochemistry
  10. Theoretical Chemistry
  11. Environmental Chemistry
  12. Atmospheric Chemistry

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Is chemistry important?

Yes, chemistry is important to humans. It is fundamental to the world as it plays a role in everyone’s lives. It is essential for meeting physiological needs including food, shelter, air, water, clothing, etc. Here’s a more detailed explanation. It is important because almost everything that exists in this world can be broken down into chemical building blocks. Chemical elements are the main building blocks in chemistry. These are substances that are made up of a single atom.


What is the importance and scope of chemistry?

Chemistry, its applications, and its rules are present in many aspects of everyday life. The following are the importance and scope of chemistry.

  • Food Supply. Chemistry contributes to the increase in the yield of fruits, vegetables, and other crops. The use of certain effective insecticides, fungicides, and pesticides has aided in the protection of crops against insects and harmful bacteria. Even in food companies, it has also played a significant role as it discovered the preservatives that have aided in preserving food products over a longer period. Through this, the continued availability of pure foodstuffs is ensured.
  • Health. Chemistry is also involved in conducting medical tests to find reasons for bad health conditions and discovering new medicines. It has contributed a large number of life-saving drugs to humanity.
  • Environmental Conservation. Through chemistry, there are now environmental-friendly chemicals that would help conserve nature.
  • Comfort. People now live in greater comfort due to scientific advancements and chemistry discoveries. Because of chemistry there are cosmetics for grooming oneself, textiles for making clothes, steel and cement for building houses, and other variety of products.
  • Industry Growth. Chemistry is critical and beneficial to the development and growth of various chemical industries. This includes the glass, cement, paper, textile, leather, and dye industries. Chemistry also has a wide range of applications in industries such as paints, pigments, petroleum, sugar, plastics, and pharmaceutical companies.
  • Explosives. Chemistry plays a role in defense. Explosives are chemical substances that produce an enormous amount of energy in the form of heat, light, and sound when they burn for a brief period of time. They are used in weapons such as missiles.

What do chemists do?

Chemists investigate substances at the atomic level and molecular level and analyze their interactions. Some examples of chemists are physical chemists, analytical chemists, organic chemists, forensic chemists, environmental chemists, and theoretical chemists.


How to become a chemist?

To become a chemist, the minimum level of education requirement is a college degree in chemistry. It can be a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) as long as the major is chemistry.

What is the wage for chemists?

According to the May 2020 data of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, $ 86,410 is the mean annual wage of chemists, while $ 41.54 is the mean hourly wage.


What is the overall employment of chemists?

According to the May 2020 data of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 82,940 employed chemists. Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing is the industry with the highest employment levels in chemists, having 14,860 or 4.98 percent.


What is the periodic table of elements?

It lists the elements discovered by scientists. It includes both the ones found in nature and the ones that are man-made. Examples of natural elements are carbon, boron, and silver. Example of man made elements is the Lawrencium which is a synthetic chemical element.

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Should I study chemistry?

Yes, you should study chemistry, especially if you want to have an advanced understanding of our world. Since chemistry has been part of our human culture, studying it will help you make informed decisions about the products you use. These products may be for health, food, clothing, shelter, soil, water, air, and so much more. You will not have difficulty in looking for universities that offer degree programs in chemistry as there are many schools that the American Chemical Society already approves.


How are chemistry and biology related?

Chemistry is frequently referred to as the central science, as it bridges the divisions between physics and mathematics, biology and medicine, and earth and environmental sciences. Thus, understanding the nature of chemicals and chemical processes sheds light on a variety of physical and biological processes.



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