Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday Science: Classifying Chemistry

A few days ago I wrote a post trying to get my head around the complex landscape of mathematics. Think of this as research for my gen ed series. When I get there, I want to recombobulate the whole thing, integrating math, physics, and chemistry somewhat.

So today I want to brainstorm the whole field of chemistry like I tried for math. I think chemistry and physics might be easier to systematize than math.

1. So once again, how is chemistry approached in university majors?
  • Inorganic chemistry 
  • Analytical chemistry
  • Organic chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Physical chemistry
  • Thermochemistry
2. The Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress classifications seem to add crystallography to this list.

3. Within one of the general chemistry books I have, the topics of introductory chemistry seem to be grouped something like the following:
  • Matters of measurement
  • The structure of atoms, properties of elements, the periodic table
  • Bonding, how molecules work, ions, intermolecular forces
  • The way chemical reactions take place (stoichiometry, aqueous interactions, gases, equilibrium)
  • Thermochemistry, chemical kinetics, nuclear chemistry, electrochemistry
  • Organic chemistry, biochemistry
4. So now it's my turn. How would I divide up chemistry?

I. Atoms and the Periodic Table
  • So you have the basic building blocks of all chemistry--atoms
  • There is the intersection between quantum physics and the structure of atoms--orbitals and the kinds of subjects especially studied in physical chemistry.
  • The Periodic Table itself has patterns--groups of elements whose properties correspond to their atomic structure (column one characteristics, noble gases in column eight, semiconductors, transition metals, the lanthanide and actinide series), electronegativity across the chart, the properties of radioactive elements, etc.
II. Molecules, Ionic Compounds, and Intermolecular Forces
  • So now we move to how elements exist in combination (not reactions yet)
  • Here we have the two primary kinds of bonding--ionic and covalent
  • There are also intermolecular forces
  • We are again to a large extent in physical chemistry territory and intersections with quantum physics.
  • Structures of molecules
  • Organic chemistry, insofar as we are talking about the structure of organic molecules
  • Biochemistry, insofar as we are talking about biological structures
III. Chemical Reactions
  • Now we're talking beyond the building blocks to how the building blocks interact and actually change--stoiciometry
  • There are reactions and interactions that happen especially in relation to aqueous environments.
  • There are reactions that happen in relation to the application or removal of heat.
  • There are reactions that happen in relation to electrochemistry.
  • There are reactions that relate especially to organic and biochemical reactions. 
  • There are reactions that involve radioactive situations.
IV. Physical Changes
  • It seems to me that there is somewhat of an overlap with physics again when it comes to matters of heat and physical (rather than chemical) changes.
  • Matters of thermodynamics and thermochemistry, gases in relation to changing pressures, volumes, and temperatures, changes of state
V. Analysis and Measurement
  • Chemistry Equipment
  • Procedures and Methods
  • Analytical chemistry (quantitative and qualitative)
  • Spectroscopy, chromatography...


Martin LaBar said...

How about Chemistry and Society? (A potentially vast topic, but perhaps chemistry majors, or even students in introductory chemistry, should get at least an introduction. And there are plenty of minefields here, but this is about education.)

Potential scarcity of elements, compounds, or minerals that are "essential" for life as we know it.
"Natural" substances vs. synthesized ones -- is there a difference?
Effects (both positive and negative) on the environment.
Chemistry and origins.
There's more.

Ken Schenck said...

Definitely part of the full package. Like applying Scripture... not enough just to interpret what it meant.

Ken Schenck said...

Thinking about the intersection between chemistry and math, most of chemistry is basic math, division, multiplication. But logarithms do come into play when it comes to Ph. The appendices also cover quadratic equations and linear equations. Not sure where they come into play. Finally, the appendix covers standard deviation, a concept in the field of statistics.

The other intersection is with physics. A lot of matters relating to thermochemistry and gases overlaps. It might be treated best in chemistry.