The history of chemistry spread over some time. Early civilizations were using many techniques that would form the basis of chemistry. Extracting metals from ores, making pottery, fermenting beer and wine, extracting chemicals from plants for medicine and perfume, rendering fat into soap, making glass and alloys were typical examples. The chemistry was produced from alchemy. Alchemy was a non-scientific discipline to understand the constituents of matters and their transformation. The difference between these two disciplines is scientific methods. Modern chemists use these methods in their research.
Chemistry in various ages
Aristotle proposed the theory of four elements. According to this theory, fire, air, water, and earth were the fundamental elements. Everything is formed by the combination of these four elements. Around 380 BC, the Greek philosopher Democritus stated that matter is composed of indivisible particles called atoms. This theory was called atomism. This theory was philosophical, with no experimental evidence.
An Ancient Greek Philosopher Empedocles, stated, ” For nothing can come to be from what is not, and it can’t be brought about or heard of that what should be utterly destroyed. Another Greek philosopher stated, ” the totality of things was always such as it is now, and always will be.” These two ideas became the basis of the law of conservation of mass.
Alchemy is the art of converting cheap metals into gold. It is developed in the Arab world after the Muslim conquests. At the beginning of the 9th century, Muslim Chemists developed early scientific methods. The most prominent chemist of this era was Jabir ibn Hayyan. He is known as Geber in Europe. He is sometimes considered the father of chemistry. He used practical ways for scientific research in the laboratory. In contrast, Greek and Egyptian alchemists used non-experimental patterns. He introduced 22 methods of distillation, crystallization, sublimation, and evaporation. He invented a device called the alembic. This device was used to distinguish between alkalis and acids. It was also used to manufacture drugs. He made a classification of chemicals using their properties. this classification was
- Spirits included the materials that could vaporize on heating
- metals had iron, tin, copper, lead, etc
- Non-malleable substances included the materials that could be made into powders
His books had a more substantial impact on European alchemists. His books were translated into Latin in the Middle Ages. These books included Kitab al-Kimya and Kitab al-Sabeen. Other Muslim alchemists Abu al-Rayhan al-Biruni and Al-Kindi gave the theory of the transmutation of metals in alchemy.
In the 15th century, Francis Bacon, Robert Boyle, Robert Hooke, and John Mayow started to rebuild the alchemical ways into scientific disciplines. Robert Boyle was the most prominent name in this age. He studied the behavior of gases. He discovered the inverse relationship between the volume and pressure of a gas. He is considered the father of modern Chemistry. In 1661, he wrote the first chemistry textbook, ” The Sceptical Chymist. This book made the differentiation between the claims of alchemy and methods of modern chemistry. He rejected the four elements theory. He stated, ” all reality and change can be described in term of particles and their motion.” This was the first understanding of atomic theory.
The Age of Enlightenment started at the beginning of the 18th century. In this century, Antoine Lavoisier presented the law of conservation of mass. In 1787, he developed a new system of chemical naming ” Methods of Chemical Nomenclature.” This method included the rules for naming chemical compounds. This system is used today. His book “Elementary Treatise of Chemistry” was the 1st book of modern chemistry. He is considered the Newton of chemistry.
Joseph Priestley contradicted that air was an inseparable element. He proved that air was a combination of gases. He isolated oxygen from the air. He discovered seven other gases. Jacques Charles found the direct relationship between temperature and pressure of gases. Joseph Proust presented the law of definite proportion. In 1754, Joseph Black and J.B. Van Helmont discovered carbon dioxide. Henry Cavendish discovered hydrogen.
Exploring the work of Boyle and Charles, Amedeo Avogadro explained the different atoms and molecules. He gave Avogadro’s law. According to this law, an equal volume of all gases at the same temperature and pressure have the same number of molecules. He introduced the Avogadro’s number. According to this, one mole of every substance has 6.02 × 1023 particles.
An English school teacher John Dalton gave the atomic theory. According to this theory, all substances are composed of indivisible atoms. Atoms of the same element have the same properties. While atoms of different elements have different properties. Atoms of other elements combine to form compounds.
Jacob Berzelius and Humphry Davy developed the electrochemical theory of chemical combination at the beginning of the 19th century. Humphry Davy discovered nine elements. He found these elements by extracting them from their oxides using an electric current.
In 1864, an English chemist Newlands arranged elements in order of their increasing atomic masses. He arranged 62 elements in this way. He presented an early table of elements. In 1871, Russian Chemist Dimitri Mendeleev devised the first periodic table. He arranged 63 elements in order of their increasing atomic masses. Nobel gases were not discovered at that time. He left vacant spaces for undiscovered elements. William Ramsay discovered noble gases at the end of this century. Thus the basic structure of the periodic table was completed.
At the beginning of the 20th century, theoretical chemistry was understood due to a series of discoveries. The internal structure of the atom was understood. In1896, Henri Becquerel discovered radioactivity. Marie Curie and Peire discovered elements emitting radiation. In 1897, J.J Thomson discovered the electrons. In 1900, Max Planck gave quantum theory, which explains the atom’s nature in a better way. In 1911, Rutherford discovered the atomic nucleus. His student Niels Bohr presented the first atomic structure. Linus Pauling and Gilbert Lewis developed the electronic theory of chemical bonds. In 1935, James Chadwick discovered the neutron. The knowledge of chemistry is increasing day by day.