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Chemistry LibreTexts

1: The Chemical World

  • Page ID
    118768
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    • 1.1: 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
    • 1.2: Chemicals Compose Ordinary Things
      Chemistry is the branch of science dealing with the structure, composition, properties, and the reactive characteristics of matter. Matter is anything that has mass and occupies space. Thus, chemistry is the study of literally everything around us – the liquids that we drink, the gasses we breathe, the composition of everything from the plastic case on your phone to the earth beneath your feet. Moreover, chemistry is the study of the transformation of matter.
    • 1.3: 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.
    • 1.4: Taking Measurements
      Chemists measure the properties of matter and express these measurements as quantities. A quantity is an amount of something and consists of a number and a unit. The number tells us how many (or how much), and the unit tells us what the scale of measurement is. For example, when a distance is reported as “5 kilometers,” we know that the quantity has been expressed in units of kilometers and that the number of kilometers is 5.
    • 1.5: 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.
    • 1.6: 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.
    • 1.7: Problem Solving and Unit Conversions
      During your studies of chemistry (and physics also), you will note that mathematical equations are used in a number of different applications. Many of these equations have a number of different variables with which you will need to work. You should also note that these equations will often require you to use measurements with their units. Algebra skills become very important here!
    • 1.8: Problem Solving and Unit Conversions
      During your studies of chemistry (and physics also), you will note that mathematical equations are used in a number of different applications. Many of these equations have a number of different variables with which you will need to work. You should also note that these equations will often require you to use measurements with their units. Algebra skills become very important here!
    • 1.9: Solving Multistep Conversion Problems
      Sometimes you will have to perform more than one conversion to obtain the desired unit.
    • 1.10: Density
      Density is a physical property found by dividing the mass of an object by its volume. Regardless of the sample size, density is always constant.


    1: The Chemical World is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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