Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What is Chemistry?

Chemistry is the science of the materials that make up our physical world.

One of the main functions of the chemist is to rearrange the atoms of known substances to produce new products. For example, chemists have developed previously unknown synthetic fibres such as Kevlar, which has desirable qualitites not found in natural fibres. The development of plastics such as polyethylene and Teflon has resulted in the production of many new items previously unavailable because no natural product could do the job. New alloys and special fuels allow us to travel in outer space. Chemists have helped to develop these and thousands of other new and useful products.

Chemistry is involved in almost everything with which we come in contact. The life processes of all organisms involve chemical changes. Chemists play a key role in the development of drugs, which are helping to cure and alleviate diseases and prolong life span. Chemists are involved in biochemistry and genetic engineering . For example, there is much interest in producing new bacterial strains, which can synthesize useful products such as human insulin or interferon. Chemists are also at the forefront of developing fields such as nanotechnology. They are actively involved in environmental issues and are helping to tap new sources of energy to replace the earth's finite reserves of petroleum.

Source: Department of Chemistry, University of British Columbia

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