December 31, 2008
Chemistry in the REAL world (II)
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
(I need a better series title)
This post will be a bit for history orientated and story learners. (Hey, I want to appeal to different crowds.)
How Chemistry affected the world socially and politically:
Marie Curie was of Polish descent and a French citizen. Women’s rights at her time were very minimal and she was not accepted into a university. She taught at an illegal one and fought to do research in chemistry and physics, even though she was a woman. She discovered polonium and information of radioactivity, she not only helped broaden the vast plethora of scientific knowledge, but she added to the crack in the glass ceiling of women’s rights in Europe and helped change the political context of her time. Women soon were allowed in universities and be scholars and part of it was in thanks to Marie Curie’s discovery for chemistry.
Chemistry affecting social and economical problems while being an issue of ethics that human beings face:
Basically, around the 1980s there was an epidemic of young boys having breathing problems that were related to an unknown disease which ultimately led to death. Scientists were taking their time trying to figure out the cure, but the parents of an infected child wanted to somehow save his life. They took it upon themselves to try to learn and discover a cure, even if it is not a clinically proven one. That goes into the matters of ethics in parenting and medicine, but at the same time, if their son was going to die, was it wrong for them to try? You see here in Chemistry the importance of making life changing decisions just as the parents are making. The real life story of what Lorenzo’s (the name of the son) parents went through to help save their son in fact helped discover a relative cure. This goes into issues of individuals helping change social context because that cure helped save many other young boys’ lives. It is a social issue because it was an epidemic, it was an economical issue because many people could not afford it, but efforts by Lorenzo’s parents and other parents helped get medicine for their kids. So science is not just learning about leaves (biology) or messing with chemicals (chemistry) or screwing around with machine parts (physics). It is real people in real life trying to make real changes to help the future and current real world.
Heat and energy and disorder are directly proportional. More energy and heat there is in a system, more disorder is in the system. If you take a container and heat it, energy accumulates in the container and then there is pressure and disorder. Now how about you take that example and apply to the world. The world is like one big container. The atmosphere would be like the lid and if you apply heat, it will cause more energy in the world (which can *excite* tectonic plates and ocean water) and lead to environmental disorder (hurricanes, global warming, earthquakes.) And if you include random variables like in Chemistry (Bombs, hyper consuming lifestyle, burning oil) it can created even more catastrophic events. Even logic of Chemistry can explain the world we live in.
Islam–Expanding and Contracting:
I believe I mentioned it in another post, but I will try to make the Chemistry connection stronger. There is a concept of contracting and expanding in Chemistry. For example, there is a famous ‘cloud’s rest’ that lies near the peak of Yosemite mountain. The reason why that cloud is always there is because air is pushed up and expands and cools. At the same time, some of the water condenses as some air is pushed down by atmospheric pressure and the air compresses, heats and the cloud evaporates again in this contracting, expanding cycle. in thermometers, liquid Mercury expands when there is more heat in the surroundings and contracts as it gets cold. As for the solid state, when you drive on bridges, some have expansion joints that look like wide forks. As the metal bridge heats up, the forks draw together and as they cool, the joints pull apart. (Okay the last was a poor example.) Point is, the universe was created by a contraction and expansion. In atoms, when they are ionized (losing an electron specifically) , generally they expand (not all the time) and when they gain an electron, the atom contracts. Expanding and contracting is a theme in nature and Chemistry as it is also in Islam. The human heart expand and contracts and sounds somewhat similar to ‘Allah, Allah….’ (note the iambic meter of the word ‘Al-lah.’) Two of Allah’s names are Al Basit (the Expander) and Al Qabid (the Contractor). In the Quran, there are literary techniques in which the meter of some ayahs *expand* and *contract.* The Quran also confirms the idea of the universe contracting and then continuously expanding. And if you observe surah Rahman, the ayahs between, ‘Which of the favors of your Lord do you deny?” contract and expand throughout the surah. Expanding and contracting are motifs seen everywhere in Islam and in Chemistry.
…Now THAT was long. Please correct me at any time if my information is wrong in any way. I don’t want to give out false information on accident.