Colliding with Chemistry



Chemistry has been one of those subjects in schools that we never were fond of yet this only happened because we associate with the theory of it and not how it is all around us.  Chemistry throughout our life has been right in front of us we just never looked closely enough. Humans themselves are a product of infinite chemical reactions. What we eat is made up of chemicals, we breathe for a chemical process, and we exist due to the million chemical reactions occurring every second inside our bodies.  There are bursts of chemical reactions happening in our bodies while I type this article and even when you sit there reading it.

Calling Chemistry, Chemistry?

What do we think of when someone says chemistry? How do we define it, well the average human like me thinks of it as all those chemical reactions and all the Practical we had to perform in high school.

Chemistry is a path of science, walking down which you get to understand the wonders of the world around us. It deals with all kinds of elements discovered until now, their reactions to all the elements and compounds they have been tested against, and all the new substances we can develop from the existing elements.  Chemistry tries to keep our life together, without it our life would have been a bigger mess; but then again we wouldn’t have existed without it.

Around the world in more than 80 ways

Chemistry exists all around us and we would prove that fact to you. We have listed below a very tiny part of how chemistry exists in plain sight and we miss it due to our preoccupations.  We might think of chemistry labs when we think of chemistry but that is not just it.

Cooking up chemistry

The everyday process that some of us find destressing and others that have found a passion for cooking are only able to do that due to the existence of chemistry. Chemistry is the explanation behind how you can cook food, how over a certain period of time the food rots and how these elements or ingredients react to each other resulting in the food we consume.

You think of avoiding chemical in the kitchen, think of something chemical as adulterated but the fact of the matter remains that everything inside the kitchen is chemical.  From common salt (NaCl2) to water (H2O) everything is made of matter and chemical elements.

Our diet is made of different groups of chemical elements that are, carbs, fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Obviously for the good to exist there has to be bad as well but for all the toxic chemicals that are not good for us there exists equal number of completely edible elements.

Our periodic table is one massive collection of a hundred and eighteen elements yet only four of them provide us with the majority of our daily need of energy. Carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen make up 99%   of the macro nutrients.  Proteins are made up of amino acids; carbs of sugar, starch and cellulose, fats contain all four except nitrogen.

There has been a lot of flake for artificial sweeteners, these provide zero calorie content and are used to sweeten drinks and ice cream.  We actively use artificial preservatives and anti-oxidants. Artificial preservatives help us stop the rotting of food by halting the growth of microorganisms. Anti-oxidants prevent the oxidation of food hence halting the spoilage.

Edible dyes are another example of chemistry in our food; these are an organic compound that mix with the food and imparts their colour.

Artificial sweeteners are of great value as they do not add any extra calories yet provide the sweetness needed. They are also harmless on consumption.

Cleaning Chemistry

Chemistry helps us understand the mechanism behind cleaning. The tiring job of cleaning that we leave for the weekends, or we absolutely detest to do have the science of chemistry behind it. It is due to the chemical reaction that occurs between a stain and the sterilizing agent, much like a fighting; that helps us remove stain and clean the object of any microorganisms.

We turn to chemistry and how a detergent reacts to certain fabrics to choose which detergent to use for laundry. We use chemistry when we use bleaching powders and purifying agents. We utilise either soap or synthetic detergent to clean surfaces, clothes and more. They help to remove fats along with water.

Traditionally we have used soaps as a cleansing agent where they are made of sodium and potassium salts. Saponification is the process that enables soap formation, through a heating reaction between fatty acids and liquid caustic soda. Here we see that not only the action of cleaning is dependent on chemistry but also the soap that we use for cleaning is made using principles of chemistry.

Organic chemistry is a branch of chemistry that deals with only one atom and that is carbon. Carbon is the sore element of a lot of floor cleaning solutions like phenol and methanol.  Phenol and methanol are effective in killing any micro-bacteria present.

You will probably ask me about the chemistry behind how soaps work and this is how. A soap molecule is divided in two parts; hydrophobic and hydrophilic. The hydrophobic part has an aversion to water and thus clings on to the dirt particle or grease for its dear life, on the other hand t hydrophilic part loves water like you love chocolate and clings on to water to save their love. Now when you turn on the tap and wash the article it washes away the dirt which clung to the soap molecules.

These prove to us the importance of chemistry and why we should know about different chemical detergents and soap in order to use the one best fit for the job.

Chugging Chemistry down

Chemistry has not only been the cause behind our existence but also the reason behind our survival. The only reason why we haven’t gone extinct in all the years we have lived on this planet come what may. Through the Spanish influenza, through the Black Death and we will through this pandemic due to the chemistry that enables the invention of vaccines and drugs. Chemistry helps us test and analyse how combinations of different and elements and compounds reacts with our bodies and diseases, empowering us with the opportunity to find treatment to these diseases.

To understand the role of chemistry in our lives we can take the case of Fredrick Sanger, he studied the molecular structure of insulin to run tests and make the first leaps into the testing of blood sugar levels. In this contemporary world, where we have one touch models to get our blood sugar levels; these models are based on Frederick Sanger’s approach to insulin. Chemistry not only helps us find the treatment but also makes up the diagnostics part.

Chemistry has helped humans make milestones in survival and continues to make leaps into the unknown. In this era, your veins can be replaced using chemically produced ones that do not react with your body, during surgeries surgeons have structures at their disposal that dissolve in the body and hence eliminates the tedious process of removal. A lot of humans continue to normalize their lives after burning their skin through chemically produced artificial skins.

Chemistry creates commerce

Chemistry not only affects our existence but is also an integral part of all things of value to us. A lot of chemical components found on this earth are quite valuable, like diamond and graphite; both of them are compounds of carbon.

Chemistry also helps us process crude oil to generate different types of fuel. The chemical process gives us gasoline, petroleum, diesel, CNG and kerosene. All of these are necessary for carrying out commerce and trade. Fuels are the backbone of transportation, take away the fuel transformation and you will be left with unmovable trucks, multiple axle trailers, cars, buses and everything else.

Oil is not only required for transportation but also for generating power in cloth mills, refineries, metal industry and the leather industry. Every industry will screech to a halt if we were to run out of fuel or devoid of the fuel transformation process.

The entirety of our economy depends on chemistry. Chemistry has been under the scrutiny du to some of its elements polluting the earth but that is on us to blame. Too much of anything is bad; we need to use fuels judiciously and with the help of chemistry innovate for a better future. Chemistry is the one that paves way for bio-fuels and less polluting compounds.

Convincing Chemistry

The examples of chemistry that we have mentioned above are only a glimpse into what it actually entails. Chemistry is all around us, helps us survive, exist and thrive on this planet. It is often made boring through theories and textual languages but if taken interest into; it is a world waiting just to amaze us. Mankind has just touched the tip of the iceberg that chemistry is, there are many more wonders waiting to amaze us and make us how tiny we really are. We are the million chemical reactions that make us up. Chemistry is why life exists and why it will continue to do so.

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