Chemistry

The science of chemistry studies the elements and compounds that make up everything around us. This includes studying their properties and structure, the way they change when subjected to other compounds, and the energy transfer during these processes.

The basic building block of any chemical substance is the atom.  Chemistry tries to understand the atom’s properties, how they combine to form new substances, and how that knowledge can help us.

There are two types of chemistry.  Organic chemistry started when people tried to isolate medical compounds from the plants and animals surrounding them.  Over time, organic chemistry evolved to include the study of molecules and the reactions of carbon-based compounds.  Inorganic chemistry, on the other hand, is what you think of when you remember high school chemistry.  This branch studies the properties and reactions of all non-carbon-based compounds and elements.

Interest in chemistry came from many sources.  Ancient peoples combined fact and lied to make soap, a fascinating chemical reaction that must’ve seemed mystical to them.  In medieval times, alchemists sought to create gold from base materials – a fool’s quest, as we know now.  In fields as diverse as medicine and metallurgy, observations and experimentation have contributed to our understanding.

There are 118 known elements.  Each element has a different atom, though the atoms within an element are all identical. Occasionally, Adams will obtain an electric charge.

When atoms join together, they share electrons. If these two atoms belong to different elements, the resulting substance is called a compound. For example, water forms when two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom joined together.

Molecules are formed when numerous atoms or compounds linked together.  DNA, the molecule that encodes your height, the color of your hair, and everything else needed to make one complete person. It is a very complex molecule consisting of thousands of elements linked in a curious spiral shape.

In the periodic table, each element has its own number.  This “atomic number” tells you how many protons are contained in the nucleus of that atom.

Periodic Table of the Elements

Group → 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
↓ Period  
1 1
H
2
He
 
2 3
Li
4
Be
  5
B
6
C
7
N
8
O
9
F
10
Ne
 
3 11
Na
12
Mg
  13
Al
14
Si
15
P
16
S
17
Cl
18
Ar
 
4 19
K
20
Ca
21
Sc
22
Ti
23
V
24
Cr
25
Mn
26
Fe
27
Co
28
Ni
29
Cu
30
Zn
31
Ga
32
Ge
33
As
34
Se
35
Br
36
Kr
 
5 37
Rb
38
Sr
39
Y
40
Zr
41
Nb
42
Mo
43
Tc
44
Ru
45
Rh
46
Pd
47
Ag
48
Cd
49
In
50
Sn
51
Sb
52
Te
53
I
54
Xe
 
6 55
Cs
56
Ba
* 72
Hf
73
Ta
74
W
75
Re
76
Os
77
Ir
78
Pt
79
Au
80
Hg
81
Tl
82
Pb
83
Bi
84
Po
85
At
86
Rn
 
7 87
Fr
88
Ra
** 104
Rf
105
Db
106
Sg
107
Bh
108
Hs
109
Mt
110
Ds
111
Rg
112
Uub
113
Uut
114
Uuq
115
Uup
116
Uuh
117
Uus
118
Uuo
 
 
* Lanthanides 57
La
58
Ce
59
Pr
60
Nd
61
Pm
62
Sm
63
Eu
64
Gd
65
Tb
66
Dy
67
Ho
68
Er
69
Tm
70
Yb
71
Lu
   
** Actinides 89
Ac
90
Th
91
Pa
92
U
93
Np
94
Pu
95
Am
96
Cm
97
Bk
98
Cf
99
Es
100
Fm
101
Md
102
No
103
Lr
   

This common arrangement of the periodic table separates the lanthanides and actinides from other elements. The Wide Periodic Table incorporates the f-block; the Extended Periodic Table incorporates the f-block and adds the theoretical g-block. Courtesy Wikipedia.