Chemistry topics

Chemistry is essentially the study of the behavior of electrons in atoms and molecules. By understanding what the electrons do in various circumstances, we can understand everything about how atoms come together to make molecules, how molecules come together to make materials, and how atoms, molecules and materials interact in reactions.

My friend at Harvard Medical School, a chemist, once told me, "Physics is well and good, but without chemistry, we'd all just be rubbing sticks and rocks together. Chemistry lets us make stuff."

By understanding chemistry, we understand stuff. We understand the details of biology - how cells work, how protein, DNA and RNA interact to form the basis of life on Earth. We understand our planet itself, how materials are made and how their properties can be altered, how pollutants affect the natural environment, and on and on. Everything is chemistry.

chemistry quote

The subjects in the menu above are expanded notes that I've given to my high-school chemistry students over the years as we've learned this amazing science together. One of the most compelling things about chemistry is that there's still so much to figure out. I'll try to point out what we don't know as we go along. Who knows ? Maybe you'll be the one to figure it out.

There are a couple of ways to navigate this site. Use the pull-down menus at the top of the page, or the chemistry topics list below. Many pages include a "Nav" box like this, putting the page in context with related pages.

There are many ways to order the subjects when teaching chemistry. This is roughly how I do it, but I've tried to write the sections so that they pretty much stand alone. I'm always happy to hear suggestions about what else to include.

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