Uses of Chemistry

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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 electrolyte. One of the more increasingly common types of battery we see these days are the lithium-ion batteries, which are found in mobile phones, iPods, cameras and laptops. These are popular due to the fact that they are so lightweight, but can produce large amounts of power, and that they are rechargeable. Although, batteries are found so commonly used in a lot of the electronics we use on a day to day basis, we don't usually think about the impact that they can have in other areas. One of the very important uses of batteries is the use of a zinc-mercury oxide battery, found in hearing aids, and another is the silver-zinc battery, used in aeronautical applications. So it's not hard to say, batteries have come along way in technological advancement, and changed our lives a great deal. Portable electricity has become so mainstream, and so universally accepted, it is quite hard to imagine your remote control having a cord right? So chemistry is all about making out lives better and easier? Sadly enough, not all the time. We know that chemistry can do so many great things for the world, although we haven't touched on the subject of destruction. Nuclear bombs are one example of the ways in which chemistry has changed and shaped our world in dramatic and disastrous ways. It was August the 2nd, of 1939, just before the start of World War Two, when Albert Einstein wrote to Franklin D. Roosevelt the President of the USA then, concerning efforts that were being taken place in Germany to purify uranium 235, which can be used to make atomic bombs. From there on, the US government started a serious endeavor into creating a practical atomic bomb, which was known as ‘The Manhattan Project'. There was a quite a number of issues they had to overcome in the making of this bomb, and the most significant problem was the extraction of the uranium 235. This was made so difficult due to a number of reasons, starting with the extraction itself. When it finally was extracted, another...
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