The case for chemistry

November 16, 2015

An excerpt from an OUPblog article published on Friday 13th November 2015, written by Peter Atkins, Fellow of Lincoln College, University of Oxford, and author of Chemistry: A Very Short Introduction, Physical Chemistry: A Very Short Introduction, and The Laws of Thermodynamics: A Very Short Introduction.


"What is all around us, terrifies a lot of people, but adds enormously to the quality of life? Answer: chemistry. Almost everything that happens in the world, in transport, throughout agriculture and industry, to the flexing of a muscle and the framing of a thought involves chemical reactions in which one substance changes into another. Everything you touch, taste, or smell, be it natural or synthetic, has emerged from sequences of chemical reactions. Strip away chemistry and you strip away colour from fabrics and vegetation. Strip away the material products of chemistry and you return to the Stone Age (but even those stones were the result of chemical reactions). Strip away anaesthetics and you are left to grit your teeth."

Discover more: Read the rest of the article on the OUPblog or discover the first chapter of Chemistry: A Very Short Introduction, freely available for a limited time.

Are you interested in using Very Short Introductions? Recommend this resource to your librarian, or find out how to subscribe.