Chemistry is a branch of physical science that studies the composition, structure, properties and change of matter. Chemistry includes topics such as the properties of individual atoms, how atoms form chemical bonds to create chemical compounds, the interactions of substances through intermolecular forces that give matter its general properties, and the interactions between substances through chemical reactions to form different substances.
Chemistry is sometimes called the central science because it bridges other natural sciences, including physics, geology and biology. For the differences between chemistry and physics see comparison of chemistry and physics.
The history of chemistry can be traced to alchemy, which had been practiced for several millennia in various parts of the world.
The word chemistry comes from alchemy, which referred to an earlier set of practices that encompassed elements of chemistry, metallurgy, philosophy, astrology, astronomy, mysticism and medicine. It is often seen as linked to the quest to turn lead or another common starting material into gold, though in ancient times the study encompassed many of the questions of modern chemistry being defined as the study of the composition of waters, movement, growth, embodying, disembodying, drawing the spirits from bodies and bonding the spirits within bodies by the early 4th century Greek-Egyptian alchemist Zosimos. An alchemist was called a 'chemist' in popular speech, and later the suffix "-ry" was added to this to describe the art of the chemist as "chemistry".
The modern word alchemy in turn is derived from the Arabic word al-kīmīā (الکیمیاء). In origin, the term is borrowed from the Greek χημία or χημεία. This may have Egyptian origins since al-kīmīā is derived from the Greek χημία, which is in turn derived from the word Chemi or Kimi, which is the ancient name of Egypt in Egyptian. Alternately, al-kīmīā may derive from χημεία, meaning "cast together".
In retrospect, the definition of chemistry has changed over time, as new discoveries and theories add to the functionality of the science. The term "chymistry", in the view of noted scientist Robert Boyle in 1661, meant the subject of the material principles of mixed bodies. In 1663 the chemist Christopher Glaser described "chymistry" as a scientific art, by which one learns to dissolve bodies, and draw from them the different substances on their composition, and how to unite them again, and exalt them to a higher perfection.
The 1730 definition of the word "chemistry", as used by Georg Ernst Stahl, meant the art of resolving mixed, compound, or aggregate bodies into their principles; and of composing such bodies from those principles. In 1837, Jean-Baptiste Dumas considered the word "chemistry" to refer to the science concerned with the laws and effects of molecular forces. This definition further evolved until, in 1947, it came to mean the science of substances: their structure, their properties, and the reactions that change them into other substances - a characterization accepted by Linus Pauling. More recently, in 1998, Professor Raymond Chang broadened the definition of "chemistry" to mean the study of matter and the changes it undergoes.
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