What is

Chemistry - Definition of chemistry

What is chemistry

Chemistry is one of the basic branches of science that study the structure, composition and properties of matter and energy and its internal changes, with a origin based on the knowledge developed by ancient alchemists current chemical has allowed the creation of new materials, new medicines and new energy sources among other technological advances.

As described in the above definition of chemistry is a branch of science as basic, not by its simplicity but its importance given to many fields or scientific disciplines rely on this science to develop its contents, biology, medicine, pharmacology, ecology and metallurgy are examples among science where chemistry plays a key role.

On the other hand the study of matter the and the different reactions that occur we can say that chemistry is everywhere, on the photosynthesis of plants, oxidation that occurs in a metal, in the manufacture of any type of plastic material, in growing food, in the DNA of our cells or in the composition of a far-away star science of chemistry is needed to understand and explain these phenomena.

We have to differentiate between fields cover physical and those that cover chemistry, physics deals with the study of energy, matter, space, time, and any type of interaction, on the other side chemical study only the matter and its interactions.

Branches of Chemistry

We can consider chemistry as the trunk of a large tree whose branches are different scientific disciplines that are nurtured and based on principles and investigation developed by the chemistry. There are many branches of this great tree citing among the most important:

  • Inorganic Chemistry - Learn all compounds and reactions of materials that do not contain carbon atoms linked with hydrogen such as metals, minerals or ceramics materials. Fibber optics, the concrete used in buildings or electronic chips are applications of inorganic chemistry.

  • Organic Chemistry - Unlike inorganic this discipline studies other compounds that contains carbon atoms linked with hydrogen such as hydrocarbons, cells or proteins.

  • Biochemistry - Study the matter and the reactions that occur in living organisms such as plants, animals and humans

  • Analytical chemistry - Study the procedures and techniques for the determination of the internal composition of any substance through laboratory techniques. The amount of pollutants in the air, alcohol detectors or even the study of the human genome is applications of this branch.

  • Physical Chemistry - Study matter and its transformations using physical knowledge as movement, time, energy, forces, etc ...


From these basic branches other scientific disciplines that focus on certain aspects among which we cite have emerged:

  • Polymer chemistry - Study the reactions and properties of macromolecules known as polymers, plastics manufacturing, adhesives or paints are practical applications of this discipline.

  • Nuclear Chemistry - Strongly linked with particle physics this science studies the properties and reactions that occur in atomic nuclei as well as those related to radioactivity. Applications such as nuclear energy, MRIs or dating ancient objects are possible thanks to the development of this branch.

  • Astrochemistry - Study the composition of stars, planets, comets and other material elements found in the universe.

  • Petrochemicals - Study the properties and processes for obtaining and processing industry of fossil fuels such as oil or natural gas

  • Electrochemistry - Study the existing relationship between the chemical reactions that produce a movement or exchange of electrons with electricity. Fuel cells, the electricity produced by eels or nerve impulses from the neurons in our brain are part of the study of this branch.

  • Pharmacochemistry - Study the chemical properties of drugs and how they influence in the biological activity of any organism, is mainly applied in the design of specific drugs to combat certain diseases.

  • Environmental Chemistry - Study the chemical reactions that occur in the environment in order to protect or improve, studies on the ozone layer, the greenhouse effect and acid rain are applications of this science.

  • Quantum Chemistry - Use mathematics developed by quantum mechanics to develop and explain chemical phenomena that occur between atoms.

History of Chemistry

The origin of chemistry goes back to our earliest ancestors when they observed natural phenomena as the transformation of wood into ashes by the action of fire or fermentation of grape must in wine, moreover the development of metallurgical techniques for the production of copper, iron or bronze objects and the transformation of others materials to obtain glasses, ceramics or dyes, chemistry has been present since the origin of humanity.

For centuries chemistry was an art rather than a science until the ancient Greek philosophers deepened on the composition and transformation of matter laying the foundations of this discipline, Empedocles promulgated the theory of the 4 elements by which it was assumed that all matter was composed of fire, air, water and earth, on the other hand Democritus proposed the composition of matter by indivisible particles which he called atoms.

Alchemy was the basis of modern chemistry, men and women who practiced this discipline not only sought the master formula to transform metals in gold or search for the elixir of eternal life, a large number of alchemists writing experiences and chemical reactions that occurred in his experiments which attempted to explain from a philosophical point of view.

During the Renaissance was used experiences and wisdom written by the ancient alchemist to give a scientific explanation and supported by experiments born science of chemistry, Robert Boyle can consider as the father of this science with the publication in 1661 of his book " The Sceptical Chymist " where betting on scientific experimentation as a means to validate the chemical theories.

Later in the XXVIII century Antonie Lavoisier consolidated this science by quantitative experiments promulgate the law of conservation of mass, studied the composition of water as part of hydrogen and other of oxygen, demonstrated the need for the presence of oxygen in any combustion process and participated in the development of chemical nomenclature by which the rules are set to name the various elements and chemical compounds.

In the nineteenth century John Dalton developed the atomic theory recovering the ideas of Democritus and being the basis for explaining the chemical processes and the proportions in which the matter reacted, Dimitri Mendeleev presents the first modern periodic table organized with the 66 elements known at that era and J. J. Thomson discovered the electron.

In the twentieth century chemistry study about composition of atoms and how they react and bond to form molecules, compounds, materials, organisms ... on the other hand the chemical industry expands bringing to market different types of materials and drugs based on the research, examples as plastics, adhesives or fertilizers.

In the future thanks to the computational chemistry we can design complex molecular structures used for a specific purpose, synthesize new lightweight, durable, flexible and self-repairing materials, we will have new drugs that eliminate much of the current diseases, we can produce low cost food in the laboratory eliminated hunger ... definitely chemistry will improve our quality of life.

What is chemistry