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The History of Chemistry

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Chemistry is defined as, “the study of the composition, structure, and properties of matter, the processes that matter undergoes, and the energy changes that accompany these processes” (Davis 3). Chemistry has been around since the dawn of time, way before humans realized what chemistry was or its importance. The building blocks of the earth, such as minerals of the soil and atmospheric gases, all arise from chemical elements. Natural resources are all chemicals or chemical compounds, and the study of such resources is what began the Chemical Revolution of the 18th century. Today, chemists still toil away, attempting to understand the reactions of the universe. Chemistry is a timeless field of study, and will continue to be so long into the future.
It is difficult to define a time “before” chemistry. Chemistry has been a part of the lives of people since the date of humanity, even if people did not understand the concepts of chemistry itself. For example, early people extracted metals from ores, fermented beer and wine, and made medicine and perfume from plants. Even without a formal definition of chemistry, humans were practicing the subject. In the late eighteenth century, The Chemical Revolution took place, defining Chemistry as a science separate from Alchemy—the dominating “science” before the 1700’s. Robert Boyle is said to be one of the forerunners of chemistry. He discovered that the volume of a gas decreases with increasing pressure and vice-versa (Boyle’s Law). Antione-Laurent Lavoisier, another leading thinker of the Chemical Revolution, gave society a new understanding of the chemical role of gasses in explaining combustion, respiration, and other processes. These leading scientists and their forerunners made Chemis...

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...e the very food we eat. Already, chemicals are put into animals to make them larger and into vegetables to make them healthier. These steps make food cheap and feed larger numbers of people. With the number of people living on Earth rising, it is likely that chemistry will help feed the increasing population.
Nearly every process on earth is driven by chemistry and chemical reactions. The processes in our bodies, gas exchange in the atmosphere, and the decomposition of matter are all small examples of the many things chemistry does in our daily lives. Natural resources, like oxygen, nitrogen, and water, fuel many of these chemical reactions. Chemistry has been around since the beginning of time, even when people did not know what chemistry really was, and will continue to shape the lives of people in the future. There is much more that chemistry can still teach us.
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