Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Why is chemistry important? by Brooke Peyton

When you think of a chemist, you usually think of a mad scientist wearing a white coat who handles dangerous and strange new chemicals. In all actuality, everyone is a chemist-- even you! Every day we come in contact with many chemical reactions without ever knowing that they happened. Many technological advances have been made by chemistry such as cellphones and even cooking. Chemical reactions have also helped validate and improve forensic sciences that we use today.
Without chemistry, you wouldn’t be able to read this article right now. Cell phones and thermostats are made with a silicon chip. Silicon is found in beach sand, and the silicon chips only work if they are pure and extracted away from the sand. In order to get a perfect silicon crystal, a chemical reaction has to take place.
Fire is another common chemical reaction that helps us with our everyday lives. Whenever you cook meat in a fire, it undergoes a chemical reaction. Whenever we learned to harness fire, food became much easier to digest. Another amazing breakthrough in chemistry was The Maillard reaction. The Maillard reaction is what happens whenever you cook cookies in the oven and they start to brown. Both the Maillard reaction and fire helped to make food taste better and go down much easier.
What do cookies, soap, onions, and love have in common? Those listed formerly are just a small handful of common chemical reactions that we experience every day. Like any other form of cooking, when you put a mixture (the dough or batter) into the oven, it changes form, same goes for cookies and cakes. Chemical reactions inside of the oven help to make the food easier to digest and better tasting. Not only is soap made by a chemical reaction, whenever soap cleans, it is also creating a chemical reaction too. Whenever soap is added to water, its molecules split either to join the oil molecules, or the water molecules. This ends up suspending any dirt you had on your body. Whenever you rinse the soap off, it gets rid of the dirt that was suspended. On to the onions--the reason why cutting onions makes you cry is also a chemical reaction. Whenever you cut an onion, you cut into its cells which releases sulfur. Whenever the sulfur mixes with moisture, it irritates your eyes and makes you cry. Last but not least in this group is love. Have you ever heard anyone say that they “have chemistry” with someone? Even though it sounds unreasonable that love and chemistry are related, they actually are. Whenever you fall in love, your brain undergoes some changes that produce hormones such as oxytocin, vasopressin, and endorphins. There are so many chemical reactions that we come in contact with every day, and these are just a few examples of them.
There are many more interesting chemistry topics. Fingerprints, murder mysteries, and dangerous criminals may sound like something that can only happen in the work of fiction, but chemistry is a real life detective! Forensic sciences and chemistry are very closely related and many forensic scientists use chemical reactions to aid them in debunking crimes. With the help of chemistry, Charles Norris and Alexander Gettler rewrote the rules of crime detection in the United States. In one case, the two chemists mentioned before proved everyone wrong whenever they used chemistry to help them solve the mystery. A woman was found dead in her apartment, and the police had believed that her cause of death was an illuminating gas death. Whenever you are killed by carbon monoxide, a powerful chemical reaction takes place in your bloodstream that deprives you of oxygen and turns your skin bright red. The woman’s corpse wasn't bright pink, and after taking her body back to the lab for more forensic tests, they later deduced that her cause of death was strangulation and her murderer was her husband. Not only was chemistry used in forensic sciences ages ago, it’s still used now to help solve many crimes. Without forensic sciences or chemists, we wouldn't be as accurate as we are now with our criminal jurisdiction.
Next time you think chemistry is boring and it’s only mixing chemicals in a science class, just remember that there’s way more to chemistry than that. We wouldn't be able to enjoy half of the things we do today without chemistry and chemical reactions. Chemistry is the reason why we have delicious cakes and cookies, and it’s also the reason our hearts beat fast whenever we see someone we love. In conclusion, forensic sciences and chemistry help detectives and police officers catch criminals on a daily basis. Without chemistry, the world as we know it would be totally different and no where near as advanced as it is today.

  • Brooke Peyton

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