Cooking is not Chemistry, or is it? In some ways it is, so in some ways we all do chemistry. Food is matter. Food is atoms. Atoms are Elements. Chemistry is a foundation to understanding our universe and, perhaps, our kitchens.
My granddaughter is taking AICE Chemistry in her Junior year at high school. Just to be able to talk to her about her chemistry learnings would be enough of a reason, but it goes beyond that for me. For her, it is required in the curricula; enough said.
Chemistry is the study of matter: Matter is anything with mass (everything!). I am not talking weight here. Stay off the scales for the time being. If I am on the moon, I weigh less than if I am on earth. Gravity’s pull determines my weight. However, my mass is the same whether I am here or sitting on the nose of the man on the moon.
The composition of matter is part of chemistry, as are the structure, and the properties, and reactions or reactive characteristics of matter. I can’t do real labs because my kitchen is my chemistry lab. Food is matter. Food gets measured and mixed and has some really creative and diabolical outcomes in my kitchen, but beakers and such are not in there at all.
If it has mass, it has atoms (so close to my adoring quantum physics heart). I won’t consider subatomic in this study of chemistry, but will learn more than I probably want to know about an atom’s neutrons, protons and electrons. Neutrons have no charge, protons are the positive chaps, and electrons are the negative-charge little imps.
Copper penny has 28 sextillion atoms: When my grandson was working on a science project in my kitchen (yes, that does happen), I learned that each copper penny that he was cleaning had 28 sextillion atoms. Enormous amount for something that is worth less than the one cent impression on the coin. I worry about our country’s deficit; imagine our destruction and revolution if it reached anything even sounding like sextillion. Egads. Doom for sure.
Neutral Atom: I don’t want to leave that atom yet, while I am thinking about it. In the nucleus or center of the neutral atom we have the neutron which has the mass, and the proton positive charges. Around this center is sort of a cloud containing the negative electrons. There is balance in nature when things go well, and that neutral atom has an equal number of electrons in the cloudiness as there are protons in the nucleus. Ah, sweet peace in the world of the balanced atom.
Periodic Table of Elements: When I walked into my high school lab, there was a huge Periodic Table of Elements on the wall. I remember so well my sensation of an organized universe just from looking at that table. What I was looking at was elements. There are over 100 elements recognized today and they each have different atoms and each of the atoms on that table of elements contained the same number of protons in their nuclei. For example, the element hydrogen contains one proton and one electron. No other element matches this. Elements are defined by the number of protons they have.
Elements Symbols: In high school I learned shorthand. Yes, I am that old! Chemistry has its own shorthand, the chemical symbols which contain one or two letters. The only things in my kitchen that follow a shorthand concept are things such as a tsp, tblsp, or oz measurements.
My grandson’s copper pennies had the CU symbol for copper. That hydrogen atom or element has a one-letter symbol of H. Water is H2O. Hum. Maybe that is another reason to study chemistry. What is the 2?
So, I am intrigued and will acquire some rudimentary level of chemistry knowledge so this grandmother can talk “chem” with her granddaughter. Reason enough, I say.
Onward to more about the Table of Elements soon.
In the meantime, this is what I know so far:
Learn chemistry because you have to or want to.
Chemistry is the study of matter, or atoms.
Atoms have mass.
Neutral atoms have an equal amount of protons and electrons.
Neutrons have no charge, protons have positive charge and electrons have negative charge.
The Periodic Table of Elements has one or two letter symbols for each atom listed.
There is a lot more to chemistry than pure atoms.