Napoleon's Buttons

Topics: 19th century, Phenol, Chemistry Pages: 2 (673 words) Published: September 14, 2014
Napoleon’s Buttons
1. The motivation behind each endeavor’s goals could have been the use for good, wealth, money, or prosperity. The chemistry of the compound is related to their usage and motive for obtaining them because molecules can control the trade and use of one specific area of the world. Some major molecules that were valued are phenol, isoprene, silk, cellulose, and glucose. Phenols were used as antiseptics during surgery to prevent cuts and wounds from getting infected. Isoprene, which is rubber, has been made into countless everyday items that we use to this day. Silk is one of the most valued fabrics in the world. Silk is very hard to harvest and it is expensive. Cellulose is the main component of cotton. Cotton is cheap and most of our clothes are made out of it today but it has fueled slavery for most of the 18th and 19th centuries. Glucose is our everyday sweetener that is always at hand but this has also been a product of slavery during the same time period of cotton. All of these molecules have been valued at some point or another. Each molecule here has been a product of someone’s endeavor to gain some sort of goal.

2. Serendipity is the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. A decent majority of chemical discoveries are serendipitous, either by means of trying to create artificial chemicals, failing and creating something accidental, or just by plain dumb luck. Most of the discoveries and expansions of nitro compounds has to do with luck. One account of pure randomness is when Christian Friedrich Schöbein spilled a mixture of nitric acid and sulfuric acid on his wife’s apron. When he hung it to dry, he had converted the cellulose in the apron as an internal source of oxygen; when heated, it exploded. Phenols also had a high probability in chance. Joseph Lister covered a clothe in phenols as an antiseptic which worked almost every time in use. This led to the cleanliness for...
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