There are several reasons people choose to do certain things with their lives, I think. Reasons, such as enjoying the company of people who also do this thing. Being naturally talented at that thing, or being gifted at several skills suitable to that particular course in life, are popular reasons to choose one thing over another. Enjoyment, an excellent motivator for choice, often follows naturally from success due to one’s talents, but may follow from any number of human experiences. A more difficult to grasp incentive is the feeling of fulfilment over one’s life choices. For science in particular, some people may be driven by a desire to discover, a profound curiosity in the world around us, or a simple need to understand. A love for problem-solving is certainly a great motivator for the pursuit of science.
For me, choosing chemistry was a mixture of many of the reasons above. Raised by two scientists, my curiosity in the world was encouraged and liberally fed through my childhood. Talented at school, I was spurred on by the praise of teachers and sparkling grades. My chemistry teachers were uniformly excellent throughout my school years — talented at teaching and earnestly enthusiastic about their subject matter. In high school, my delight at solving the puzzle-like problems in chemistry class was what really kept me enjoying the subject. High school was where love for chemistry truly took root in my heart, I think. Those last years were when my teacher first began talking about chemistry in more than abstract terms. I learnt how to draw molecules, paving way to an ability to visualise chemicals. I learnt how to count molecules, mathematically, through a concept known as the “mole.” Through these relatively simple concepts, and many others, chemistry became a tangible thing in the world around me. And I was in love.
Some chemists like to call chemistry the “central science,” with respect to the three well-established scientific fields of biology, chemistry and physics. Physics deals with energy, and biology deals with life. Chemistry deals with matter, which is everything that is physical, tangible — real, if you will. As a science of matter, chemistry bridges physics and biology, and, because matter is ubiquitous, is arguably important to the study of both. I will leave antimatter to the physicists, though.
I take great delight in looking around me, knowing that everything I see is made of atoms and molecules. Everything around me is chemistry. Everything “natural,” like grass and trees and people, and everything synthetic, like my phone, computer, my eyeglasses — they are all a part of chemistry. As I learn more about chemistry, I learn more about the building blocks of everything around me. To me, that is infinitely exciting, fulfilling and beautiful. Learning and doing chemistry makes me feel somehow more deeply connected to the world around me. It is a feeling which keeps me passionate and excited about chemistry — and more than that, it makes me want to share that feeling.
It is heartbreaking to me how negative the current public image of chemistry is. Consider how even the term “chemical” is perceived. It evokes an instant vision of smoking chimneys, car exhausts and bottles of poisonous cleaning agents. While I wish to dispel this misconception of chemicals, at the very core of it, I want to show you, the reader, something beautiful and exciting. I am writing this to spread the joy of chemistry.
Welcome to Chemistry Intersection.
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