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Polymers in Everyday Life

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Polymers in Everyday Life

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Polymers are a part of our every day life and without them around, this world would be very, very different, if not impossible to live in. However, most people do not even know what a polymer is, or just how widespread they are around us. Polymers are formed from hydrocarbons, hydrocarbon derivatives, or sometimes from silicon. They are the basis not only for numerous natural materials, but also for most of the synthetic plastics that one encounters in their lives. Polymers consist of extremely large, chain-like molecules that are, in turn, made up of numerous smaller, repeating units called monomers. There are a few different types of polymers that exist. There are natural polymers, which consist of wool, hair, rubber, etc., as well as many synthetic polymers which would include nylon, synthetic rubber, polyester, Teflon, and so forth. Polymers are everywhere, so much so that it is very difficult to spend a day without encountering a natural polymer, even if hair is removed from the list. In fact, in the day and age that we live in, it is probably even harder to avoid synthetic polymers, which have together revolutionized our society. There are many polymers that exist in nature, such as silk, cotton, starch, sand, and yes, even asbestos. There are even more complex natural polymers that are incredibly complex, such as a persons DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), which hold genetic codes. Synthetic (artificial) polymers, which will be the focal point of the paper, would include plastics like Styrofoam and Saran wrap; fibers such as nylon and Dacron (polyester); and other materials such as Formica, Teflon, and PVC pipe. Polymers are all around us, but let’s make this thought of polymers more real to us, and imagine the typical day of a hypothetical teenage girl. She wakes up, and is so comfortable in her nice warm bed with the sheets all around her. Chances are that those sheets she has on her consist of tons of polymers. Then she finally gets up and out of bed, and...

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