People love new things and it will not take much of an effort on our part to prove this. Sure, we could talk about how scientists have demonstrated that the dopamine pathways in the frontal cortex of our brains light up like a Christmas tree in Times Square when we see something new. A better way to interpret new in this instance is to consider it as something you haven't seen before, like a movie trailer, a new discovery, or the latest tech gadget. Or we could talk about the brain and how it has an element of elasticity to it, meaning that it thrives, stretches, and grows when we learn new things. Perhaps you are someone that prefers routine, the familiar, or do not particularly care for change in general? Were not asking anyone to reinvent the wheel, but for argument’s sake, lets explore a story that may shed light on your disposition. For instance, in 1977 a CEO of a large tech company stated "There is no reason why anyone would ever want a computer in their home.” Obviously we know how that turned out. Hear us out though, we are not saying that all new things are good and should be blindly accepted. However, we are saying that sometimes new can be good, and when new is objectively good, great things can happen. Yes, learning new, relevant, beneficial things can be good. However, the real question is, why haven't we all fallen in love with Chemistry?
Enter audible record scratch. In a recent American Chemical Society post, they eloquently stated, “The wonder of chemistry is that when basic particles are combined, they make something new and unique”. Chemistry matters and whether we realize it our not, it surrounds us. It’s incredibly humbling when you take a step back and consider that chemistry surrounds us every day. Nails rust, photosynthesis occurs, we breathe, we digest, we wash our hands with soap, we start campfires or light our grills with a match, and that’s just beginning to scratch the surface. Despite your closest memory of how enjoyable chemistry class, or the experience it provided, or the content it consisted of, there are most definitely motivating factors back to the subject. We’ve established that learning new things can be good and that chemistry provides a significant opportunity in the world that surrounds us. On the reverse side, there is a growing problem. There is a good amount of Americans that are practically illiterate when it comes to chemistry. Narrow that down to a generic grasp of base level scientific concepts and it can get a little scary. (If you have found yourself wondering how scientifically literate you are, you can test your skills here). When our base level understanding of chemistry comes from watching Breaking Bad as primary source, there is a reason to be concerned.
The American Chemical Society hit another home run with this concluding statement in their post “Chemistry Is Everywhere”. It stated, “And so it is with chemistry, understanding the basic properties of matter and learning how to predict and explain how they change when they react to form new substances is what chemistry and chemists are all about. Chemistry is not limited to beakers and laboratories. It is all around us, and the better we know chemistry, the better we know our world.” Its a sobering thought. Becoming chemistry literate could translate to being quite practical in our daily life. Consider how many times you’ve looked at the back of a drink, food packaging, a soap or shampoo bottle and said, what in the world is Xanthan Gum or Propylene Glycol? Chemistry can answer that. We could all more than likely stand to unplug and engage with beauty in our world as well. In a video made by thenobelprize.org it it wisely noted that Chemistry can be quite beautiful. That is, if you know what your looking for.
In a world where the lingo promising "new and improved!" is screamed by infomercials on television in the early hours of the morning, Chemistry is refreshing, learnable, and yet incredibly complex. Whether you consider yourself to be the next Marie Curie or just want to brush up where you left off in high school, we hope our Chemistry Matters series is helpful and encouraging to you. In part 2 of our Chemistry Matters blog series, we thought we'd share a few practical smartphone apps that might help you along in your learning journeys. Make sure to tune in, take a look, try out our recommendations, and give us feed back!
ACS.org, "Chemistry Is Everywhere"
GreenBiz.com, "Swimming Upstream,Striving To Understand Chemical Products"
PsychologyToday.com, "Do We Love New Things?"
BufferApp Blog, "Novlety and The Brain: How To Learn More and Improve Your Memory
Chemistry.com, 10 Examples of Chemical Reactions In Everyday Life