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Uses of Chemistry

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  • August 2006
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How has the study of chemistry affected the lives of ordinary people?

Every single day, without even realising it, we use so many things that are brought to us by the discoveries and advances in chemistry. Many of these things we take for granted, and don't even bother to question how it got there, why it is there, and how it works. Chemistry makes up everything in our lives, from the air that we breathe, to the plastic on the keyboard I'm typing on now, and a in depth study of some of the wonderful things chemistry has done for the modern day world, will help us to appreciate everything we have a great deal more. For as long as we know, scientists have been creating, and improving new strategies to improve the lives of us humans. One of the most important inventions was that of portable electricity. Yes, batteries. The same thing that you put into your CD player, in your remote control, in your wireless mouse, in your car and the list goes on. Batteries are one of the most widely used forms of electrical energy, and it's hard to believe that the first battery ever created was way back in 1800. Alessandro Volta was the inventor of the first ever battery, which consisted of layers of zinc, blotting paper soaked in salt water, and silver. In the 1800's, the Daniel cell was developed, which is also known as the ‘wet' cell, as it used liquids for the electrolytes. It consists of copper and zinc plates, and copper and zinc sulphates. Although the Daniel cell worked, it was only suitable for stationary items, such as door bells as it was a wet cell. From this, modern day scientists have developed a range of different cells to cater to our specific needs. There is the zinc carbon battery, which is relatively inexpensive is very commonly used as AA, C and D cells. Then there is the more powerful alkaline battery, and the lithium photo battery, which is able to supply power surges. The battery used in the car is a lead-acid battery, which has a strong acidic...