Chemistry - The Central Science

Chemistry is also often referred to as “the central science”.  In fact, that is the title of a common college textbook:  Chemistry, The Central Science.  This moniker is because the field of chemistry overlaps with so many other branches of science that it is considered a central connecting point for these various fields of study.  This is easy to understand when we consider the definition of chemistry.

Merriam-Webster.com  defines chemistry as “a science that deals with the composition, structure, and properties of substances and with the transformations that they undergo”.  Another way to define chemistry is “the branch of science concerned with the study of matter and its changes”.  Since our entire world is made out of matter - physical “stuff” - chemistry helps us to understand everything we may encounter in physical form.  Anything you can see or touch is made out of matter!

Physics and Biology are prime examples of this overlap.  One cannot study physics without learning about charged particles such as protons and electrons, and basic atomic structure.  In physics, energy transfers and phase changes are also studied, such as the way ice melts and water boils.  Biology also cannot be thoroughly studied without understanding various types of organic and biological molecules that are key to biochemical pathways in cells and which influence how they function.  For example, the chemical structures of various fats and lipids are key to understanding their function in cell membranes. 

Other branches of science such as Earth Science also depend on a basic understanding of chemistry.  Environmental Science cannot be studied without some chemistry knowledge, which is needed to understand how various pollutants travel through the ecosystem and affect plants, animals, and humans.  Geology and Mineralogy are essentially the study of various rocks and minerals, and these minerals and rocks are simply inorganic compounds found in specific ratios.  There is really no escaping chemistry when you study any branch of natural science.

Studying chemistry, however, can be its own reward.  “Better living through chemistry” is an expression that may refer to chemical advances that affect and enhance our lives directly through advances in Pharmaceutical Chemistry.  Pharmaceutical chemistry can be described as complex and coordinated combination of Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biology, Medicine, Physiology and  Pharmacology.

Developments in Polymer Chemistry and Materials Science also significantly affect our quality of life, both in the present and expected in the future.  Synthetic polymers are used for a wide variety of medical purposes, from dental applications to artificial organs including hearts, lungs and kidneys.  Our natural environment is conserved when using chemistry to make better, stronger plastics and reducing waste placed into landfills, and also developing plastics that can be easily recycled

One of the best rewards of studying chemistry is that you can understand chemistry jokes and memes like the ones throughout this article (found at 9gag.com, happysciencenotebook.blogspot.com, sciencenotes.org and pinterest.com). 

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