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Chemistry LibreTexts

A: Preliminary

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    • 2.1: The Scope of Chemistry
      Chemistry is the study of matter and the ways in which different forms of matter combine with each other. You study chemistry because it helps you to understand the world around you. Everything you touch or taste or smell is a chemical, and the interactions of these chemicals with each other define our universe. Chemistry forms the fundamental basis for biology and medicine. From the structure of proteins and nucleic acids, to the design, synthesis and manufacture of drugs, chemistry allows you
    • 2.2: Hypothesis, Theories, and Laws
      Although all of us have taken science classes throughout the course of our study, many people have incorrect or misleading ideas about some of the most important and basic principles in science. We have all heard of hypotheses, theories, and laws, but what do they really mean? Before you read this section, think about what you have learned about these terms before. What do these terms mean to you? What do you read contradicts what you thought? What do you read supports what you thought?
    • 2.3: Scientific Notation - Writing Large and Small Numbers
      Chemists often work with numbers that are exceedingly large or small. For example, entering the mass in grams of a hydrogen atom into a calculator requires a display with at least 24 decimal places. A system called scientific notation avoids much of the tedium and awkwardness of manipulating numbers with large or small magnitudes.
    • 2.4: Significant Figures - Writing Numbers to Reflect Precision
      Uncertainty exists in all measurements. The degree of uncertainty is affected in part by the quality of the measuring tool. Significant figures give an indication of the certainty of a measurement. Rules allow decisions to be made about how many digits to use in any given situation.
    • 2.5: Significant Figures in Calculations
      To round a number, first decide how many significant figures the number should have. Once you know that, round to that many digits, starting from the left. If the number immediately to the right of the last significant digit is less than 5, it is dropped and the value of the last significant digit remains the same. If the number immediately to the right of the last significant digit is greater than or equal to 5, the last significant digit is increased by 1.
    • 2.6: The Basic Units of Measurement
      Metric prefixes derive from Latin or Greek terms. The prefixes are used to make the units manageable. The SI system is based on multiples of ten. There are seven basic units in the SI system. Five of these units are commonly used in chemistry.