August 15, 2020, 12:49:02 AM
Forum Rules: Read This Before Posting


Topic: "General" chemistry  (Read 11289 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline movies

  • Organic Minion
  • Retired Staff
  • Sr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1973
  • Mole Snacks: +222/-20
  • Gender: Male
  • Better living through chemistry!
"General" chemistry
« on: April 06, 2005, 06:18:10 PM »
Looking back on the chemistry classes I took through high school and college, I find it a little odd that virtually all of the subject matter in intro level general chemistry classes is more on the physical chemistry side of things.  Then I hear people talk about how they didn't like their chemistry classes because it was too many equations or it didn't make any sense for one reason or another.

To the point, why does gen. chem. have to be basic p. chem.?

I find organic chemistry much easier to handle because you can think about it visually.  I hardly ever use an equation I learned in gen. chem. other than molar conversions.  Are we scaring people away by trying to teach them p. chem. first?

Offline Donaldson Tan

  • Editor, New Asia Republic
  • Retired Staff
  • Sr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3178
  • Mole Snacks: +261/-12
  • Gender: Male
    • New Asia Republic
Re:"General" chemistry
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2005, 08:44:32 PM »
what's the universal definition for general chemistry?

general chemistry encompasses organic, inorganic, physical, biological, nuclear chemistry. from high school till college, chemistry has always been taught to me with emphasis that it's a synthesis science. physical chemistry describes the underlying principle behind all chemical system, such as kinetics, thermodynamics, chemical bonding, structure of solid, liquid, gas. a study in general chemistry can't do without sufficient background training in basic physical chemistry.

despite the intentions of the people who designed the education system, most people who actually teach fail to highlight the link between physical chemistry and other areas of chemistry. My classmates used to lament why some chemistry topics seem so physics-like without understanding how this relates to our study in chemistry science.
"Say you're in a [chemical] plant and there's a snake on the floor. What are you going to do? Call a consultant? Get a meeting together to talk about which color is the snake? Employees should do one thing: walk over there and you step on the friggin� snake." - Jean-Pierre Garnier, CEO of Glaxosmithkline, June 2006

Offline eugenedakin

  • Oilfield Consulting Chemist
  • Retired Staff
  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 658
  • Mole Snacks: +88/-2
  • Gender: Male
  • My desk agrees with the law of entropy
    • Personal Website
Re:"General" chemistry
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2005, 12:03:05 AM »
This is a long conversation that even us chemists have a hard time describing.  The *problem* is, chemistry deals with matter.  If it can be touched, or seen, it is made of matter, and matter is made of chemicals.  This would mean, that everything deals with chemistry (I won't get philosophical here)  ;)

For example, take any life form.  Its basic makeup is that it is a carbon life form.  Carbon is a chemical, and makes up the basis for DNA, RNA, etc of all life.  

Another example is petroleum.  Petroleum is hydrocarbon chains which are extracted (by the aid of water, which is a chemical, or fire (combustion of a chemical)) and distilled (separation of chemicals by burning chemicals to create heat), to create fuel for automobiles (made of iron and plastic chemicals).

The area of Chemistry is so large, that, essentially, every scientific occupation deals with chemistry (medical doctors, pharmacists, biologists, engineers, etc...)

When you mentioned that chemistry seems physic-like, you are correct, but the similarities with other areas of science do not stop there.  It deals with all scientific areas.

The definition of general chemistry would be...hmmm.. the scientific study of everything?

This topic is huge, I'll stop here.

This is just my $0.02

Eugene
There are 10 kinds of people in this world: Those who understand binary, and those that do not.

Blueshawk

  • Guest
Re:"General" chemistry
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2005, 12:09:41 PM »
....Then I hear people talk about how they didn't like their chemistry classes because it was too many equations or it didn't make any sense for one reason or another.

I find organic chemistry much easier to handle because you can think about it visually.  I hardly ever use an equation I learned in gen. chem. other than molar conversions.  Are we scaring people away by trying to teach them p. chem. first?

I don't think a person should dive into chemistry without a good mathematical background, this should be taught to interested Chem students at the high school or even grade school level.  When I was in Principles of Chemistry I, in my sophmore year..I was leaning toward Physics my freshman year, I saw over half the class struggle with simple equations...

If someone is not up to the math...then Organic Chem is it...but to get the degree you need other chem class, thus more equations.

Chem and Math go hand in hand....learn to use them both and you'll be better off
« Last Edit: August 19, 2005, 12:15:06 PM by Blueshawk »

Offline gregpawin

  • Cradle Bandit
  • Chemist
  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 245
  • Mole Snacks: +22/-5
  • Gender: Male
  • Ebichu chu chu chuses you!
Re:"General" chemistry
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2005, 05:51:42 AM »
I believe the problem lies in the problem that chemistry tries to tackle: how the world works.  Problem is: the universe is very very consistent with everything it does.  You can't get around describing nature without math because, sadly, math is the only way we can describe anything in a logically consistent manner.  

While you can eventually describe everything with physics, you'll get the problem you describe with the math overload.  That's where I think chemistry can play a role and explain things without delving too deeply into the mathematics of it.  However, there is a line in the sand that people push back and forth as to how much should be introduced with the first exposure.

If you don't mention why things are so consistent, and derive the reasons for these "emergent properties", you might as well be teaching them philosophy.  Now, that's not to say that I don't agree about the math thing.  One thing is clear, teaching methods are never optimal.  I mean Richard Feynman used to recall that quantum mechanics only used to be taught to graduate students and eventually teaching methods were developed to make the subject more digestible even for undergrads; yes even chem undergrads hehe.

I vote that the p chem introduced in general chemistry books be lighter on the thermodynamics and heavier on the statistical mechanics/statisical physics.  Thermodynamics is very heavy on the conditional proofs and gives equations that are relatively hard to imagine physically.  I believe statistics to be a subject made out to be harder than it really is.  With a few fundamental ideas, gchem students can give statistical proofs of the ideal gas law and even for chemical equilibrium that do not require partial derivatives.

The problem I have with beefing up the organic chemistry, though its still terribly interesting, is that gchem books will tell you something about s and p ortibals with sigma and pi bonding... that there's resonance and these new orbitals with when they bond... yada yada.  However, the usual method to explaining these new driving forces involves introducing students to models of nature that do not exist elsewhere.

Organic chemistry, at its essence, involves processes that can only be described quantum mechanically.  What are electrophiles/nucleophiles?  What is the force driving a pericyclic reaction?  These are complex processes that get explained by a set of models that have little explaination for their physical origins.  Organic chemistry would be such a more beautifully cherished phenomenon if kids knew that the orbitals came from angular momenta or that quantum mechanics arises from the noncommutability of rotations.  

Chemistry and physics are unified and we should show kids that the universe is driven by a handful of principals, instead of trying to teach them new models.  I just believe, someone with the insight to bring all the fields together to do for chemistry and physics what Newton did to explain that the movement of the falling apple and the tides were due to the same forces.
I've got nothin'

Offline Mitch

  • General Chemist
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 5294
  • Mole Snacks: +376/-2
  • Gender: Male
  • "I bring you peace." -Mr. Burns
    • Chemistry Blog
Re:"General" chemistry
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2005, 05:56:01 AM »
I think Linus Pauling did a very good job doing the job description you just listed.
Most Common Suggestions I Make on the Forums.
1. Start by writing a balanced chemical equation.
2. Don't confuse thermodynamic stability with chemical reactivity.
3. Forum Supports LaTex

Offline gregpawin

  • Cradle Bandit
  • Chemist
  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 245
  • Mole Snacks: +22/-5
  • Gender: Male
  • Ebichu chu chu chuses you!
Re:"General" chemistry
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2005, 05:57:48 AM »
well i guess we need more double noble prize winners and we're set
I've got nothin'

GCT

  • Guest
Re:"General" chemistry
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2005, 03:24:13 PM »
Looking back on the chemistry classes I took through high school and college, I find it a little odd that virtually all of the subject matter in intro level general chemistry classes is more on the physical chemistry side of things.  Then I hear people talk about how they didn't like their chemistry classes because it was too many equations or it didn't make any sense for one reason or another.

To the point, why does gen. chem. have to be basic p. chem.?

I find organic chemistry much easier to handle because you can think about it visually.  I hardly ever use an equation I learned in gen. chem. other than molar conversions.  Are we scaring people away by trying to teach them p. chem. first?

Do you actually think that organic chemistry would be adequate without general chemistry/physical chemistry?  Although, new concepts are introduced, and as vague as they are, the gist of organic chemistry concepts are based/explained through general chemistry concepts I would think....equilibrium, free energy (hammond's postulate), thermodyanmics, kinetics, quantum mechanics...really everything from gen chem was at least mentioned even integral to org. chem concepts.  The mechanisms go beyond this, or are somewhat complex applications, still the more you know in gen chem, the better you'll do in org chem, just my opinion.

P. chem concepts are introduced first, since all of it is really the backbone of chemistry, afterall, as several here have mentioned, chemistry is very much interconnected with physics.

tvs333

  • Guest
Re:"General" chemistry
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2005, 04:43:23 PM »
The folks at the University of Michigan have made freshman chemistry a mechanistic organic chemistry course and give general chemistry in second year.  Two articles outlining their rationale:

J Chem Ed Vol. 74 (1) 1997 page 74 and 84


Offline RapterBoyDD

  • New Member
  • **
  • Posts: 8
  • Mole Snacks: +0/-0
Re: "General" chemistry
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2014, 03:17:14 PM »
This is were I'm starting too.
I'm going to read two books bout General Chemistry then move on so i get the whole view of General Chemisty before i get into the Lab! :O

Sponsored Links