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Chapters in the series:
2 Million B.C. to 1661- Ancient Chemistry
- Chemistry is both science and art. The art began with the first humans and the discovery of fire. It proceeded through metallurgy. Though discovered probably through accident, the discovery of bronze, iron, glass and gunpowder transformed all civilizations they touched. But before civilizations could progress any further toward modern societies they had to understand the atomic nature of matter. This started with Robert Boyle and his denunciation of the medieval alchemist.
1800 - Electrolysis Reveals Water is not Elemental
Since the Greeks, alchemists had held that matter was made up of four elements - fire, earth, air and water. But a series of brilliant experiments at the end of the 18th century showed that none of these were elemental. Of particular interest was the separation of water into hydrogen and oxygen gases.
1808 - Atomic Theory of Matter is Announced
The conceptual breakthrough that chemists were looking for was provided by John Dalton when he proposed that matter was made up of tiny elements that he called atoms.
1828 - Organic Chemistry
When it was demonstrated that a special life force, known as 'the vital life force,' was not part of organic material, it opened the door for a whole new branch of chemistry - organic chemistry. This chapter defines organic chemistry and shows how the discovery of polymers, which led to the world of plastics, and bioengineering.
1869 - The First Periodic Table
- The greatest discovery in all of chemistry was Mendeleev's period table of the elements. This chapter shows in clear detail how the over 100 elements are arranged into predictable groups which for the basis of all chemical interactions.
1945 to Present - Catalysts and New Chemicals
In order to create the modern world of chemistry we all rely on today, chemists had to overcome the slowness of nature's chemical reactions and interactions. This was accomplished through the discovery of catalysts and biocatalysts, called enzymes. The result was the creation of over a million new chemicals a year in the 21st century.
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