Before ending my day, just thought of writing about an incident in class few months ago….
Teacher: Matter is made up of atoms. Atoms are the smallest particle that makes up matter. Atom is made up of three subatomic particles… proton, neutron and……
Student: Why is it important to learn all this?? We are not going to apply it anyway!
I get this question almost every year. Chemistry is all around us…..Look around and you can find that, you can relate everything to chemistry. Just observe closely. The chair that you’re sitting on, the table, your water bottle, the stationary and the list goes on. Every single object is made up by a composition of materials. The study of chemistry ( in this aspect, particularly materials ) is one of the fundamentals that one must master in order to create these everyday objects. As a student, curiosity should be innate in one’s self. Knowing why you’re studying and learning makes it even more exciting. Hence, a subject that you can relate to your daily life in all aspects is definitely something worth studying. I shall list down a few applications of chemistry in daily life before signing off.
- Why does ice float? Ice floats on water because ice is less dense than water. Ice forms a lattice that has many void spaces and allows it to float. (There’s much more to this, including the structure of ice molecule and stuff..this is just a brief intro)
- The secret of tears while cutting onions…Cutting onion releases sulfonic acid which reacts with the moisture in the eyes that causes irritation. (Tip: cut onion in running water)
- Why does coffee keep us awake? Adenosine (from the brain) is one of the main reasons why we feel sleepy. The higher the concentration of adenosine, the sleepier we feel. Caffeine which is structurally similar plays the opposite role by keeping us awake. The brain decodes caffeine as adenosine (due to the structural similarity) and binds itself to it, keeping us alert and fresh. However, too much caffeine consumption will lead to the brain being immune to it and thus losing its tendency to keep us awake.
- The action of soap? Soap is made up of two parts- hydrophilic (water loving) and hydrophobic (water hating). Due to these unique structure (similar to the cell membrane..how awesome is that!!) the hydrophobic part dissolves in oil and the hydrophilic part dissolves in water causing the oil to be lifted from the surface (emulsion). This emulsion will then be washed off while rinsing ( that’s why it is important to rinse and clear the dirt)
- The science of cosmetology….Cosmetics are made up of various chemical ingredients..from titanium oxide, emulsifiers, thickeners and perfumes to name a few. Some of this will eventually cause adverse side effects to the skin. Knowledge in chemistry will help curb this problem.
- Food preservatives….Usage of sodium benzoate in many types of food which includes sausages, nuggets, chilli sauce, tomato ketchup and so on has many negative side effects. Excessive consumption of sodium benzoate may cause vomiting, nausea, itchiness, numbness, discoloration of the skin, inflammation, rash, and most recently discovered is cancer. Although, the amount of sodium benzoate added to these substances are marginal, the cumulative effect will eventually lead to the activation of cancer cells.
What are you thinking right now? Is chemistry important? Do figure it out for yourself…. As I’ve always mentioned…learn how to appreciate the beauty of the subject…
Chemists do not usually stutter. It would be very awkward if they did, seeing that they have at times to get out such words as methylethylamylophenylium –
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