The History of Chemistry





The History of Chemistry

Chemistry is the science of the composition and structure of materials and of the changes that materials undergo. It is also used in improving standards of living, making it possible for such substances as rubber, nylon, and plastics to be made from completely different materials. New materials and new properties of old materials are always being discovered. Some earlier products discovered from chemical reactions are ceramics, glass, and metals. Dyes and medicines were other early products obtained from natural substances. Some practical applications that chemistry is used for are to make stronger metals, improve soil, and the developments of live-saving drugs. Modern technology depends highly on these advancements; chemistry is a way of explaining our material world. Many people can\'t understand the importance of chemistry if they aren\'t planning on being a chemist. What many people don\'t realize is that chemistry provides employment to people in laboratories, universities, schools, and businesses. A knowledge of chemistry is also needed in fields such as medicine, agriculture, and engineering.
Modern chemistry is only about two centuries old. Earlier history of chemistry can be divided into three periods: "black magic," alchemy, and "primitive modern." Black magic was from prehistoric times to the beginning of the Christian Era. People believed that spirits controlled natural occurrences and they used magic to persuade these spirits to help in operations. During this period only some practical knowledge was gathered. Some elements such as iron, gold, and copper were recognized. There was also some progress in glass making, metalworking, and alloying. Thales and Aristotle contemplated the nature of matter, and they believed that earth, air, fire and water composed all matter. They thought that they could remove certain qualities like hardness or temperature from common materials to make rarer substances. They did know that iron could be made from certain rock and that bronze was a mixture of copper and tin.
From the beginning of the Christian Era to the 17th and 18th centuries was the period of chemistry known as alchemy. Alchemists believed that metals could be changed into gold with the help of a mystical stone which was never found. They did, however, discover many new elements and compounds. Paracelsus, a talented Swiss alchemist, decided that alchemy should be for helping to cure the sick instead of searching for gold. The main elements that he used were salt, sulfur, and mercury, all which are connected to "elixir." This period of practicing medicine was known as iatrochemistry, which is the study of medicine with chemistry applied.
One of the first real scientific chemist was Robert Boyle. In 1661, he helped to find the Royal Society of England, a scientific society. For about two centuries after Boyle, scientists started making useful discoveries, even though, they were far from understanding the true nature of matter or knowing what happens in chemical reactions. One of the most confusing events of this time period was the theory of burning, or combustion, called the phlogiston theory. According to this theory, a yellowness or hardness was supposed to escape from substances during the burning process. By now, chemists were starting to learn that they must test these theories with experiments. In 1774, Joseph Priestley discovered that a certain gas, now known as oxygen, was required in the burning process. A few years earlier, Henry Cavendish had discovered hydrogen and Antoine Lavoisier used the findings to formulate the presently accepted theory of combustion. This is often said to have marked the beginning of modern chemistry.
In chemistry experiments must be run to prove hypothesizes that a chemist has stated. In an experiment you must make observations under circumstances in which variables can be controlled in a way that the results can be transcribed and rational conclusions can be obtained. After an experiment has been carried out, a chemist can state a theory which is a tested explanation of a natural occurrence.
Based on scientific principles, Chemistry didn\'t evolve until the latter part of the 18th century. Chemists started to measure exactly what the substances were in their experiments. In 1805, John Dalton\'s atomic theory helped to advance modern chemistry. This theory stated that all matter is made up of small particles called atoms and that chemical changes take place between these atoms