Chemistry is defined as, “the study of the composition, structure, and properties of matter, the processes that matter undergoes, and the energy changes that accompany these processes” (Davis 3). Chemistry has been around since the dawn of time, way before humans realized what chemistry was or its importance. The building blocks of the earth, such as minerals of the soil and atmospheric gases, all arise from chemical elements. Natural resources are all chemicals or chemical compounds, and the study of such resources is what began the Chemical Revolution of the 18th century. Today, chemists still toil away, attempting to understand the reactions of the universe. Chemistry is a timeless field of study, and will continue to be so long into the future.
It is difficult to define a time “before” chemistry. Chemistry has been a part of the lives of people since the date of humanity, even if people did not understand the concepts of chemistry itself. For example, early people extracted metals from ores, fermented beer and wine, and made medicine and perfume from plants. Even without a formal definition of chemistry, humans were practicing the subject. In the late eighteenth century, The Chemical Revolution took place, defining Chemistry as a science separate from Alchemy—the dominating “science” before the 1700’s. Robert Boyle is said to be one of the forerunners of chemistry. He discovered that the volume of a gas decreases with increasing pressure and vice-versa (Boyle’s Law). Antione-Laurent Lavoisier, another leading thinker of the Chemical Revolution, gave society a new understanding of the chemical role of gasses in explaining combustion, respiration, and other processes. These leading scientists and their forerunners made Chemistry a science that their successors would continue to study (Chemical Heritage Foundation).
Elements—pure substances that cannot be broken down into simpler forms—and compounds—mixtures of two or more elements—form all types of matter. Therefore, all natural resources are either elements or compounds (Davis 6-7). Water is a chemical compound formed of the elements Hydrogen and Oxygen. Water is a natural resource that is vital for all life on Earth. Oxygen, Nitrogen, Carbon, and other gases of the atmosphere can be found on the periodic table. Needless to say, natural resources have been important in advancing the field of chemistry. Joseph Priestly, an Englishman, is most well-known for discovering elemental oxygen. He also, with the help of Benjamin Franklin, published The History of Electricity (1767), and in the 1770’s published how to carbonate water (Chemical Heritage Foundation). These discoveries involving natural resources have changed the way we live.
Another example of natural resources advancing the field of chemistry lies in the way we make and use energy. The United States and other developed countries use fossil fuels like petroleum, natural gas, and coal to provide electricity and fuel our vehicles....