5 Very Cool Things About Chemistry

As our Chemistry A Level students will know, Chemistry is a fascinating subject with a rich and ancient history. We've distilled 5 very cool facts, what are yours? Let us know in the comments below.  

1. The most common Element in existence is Hydrogen, which is also the first element listed on the periodic table. Hydrogen accounts for 74% of atoms in the universe, but despite this it wasn’t actually given a name until 1783. Hydrogen is highly combustible and was used as the lifting gas on the famous Hindenburg airship, ultimately resulting in the Hindenburg disaster of 1937. Today, Hydrogen is once again being used in transport, with hydrogen fuel cells being used to power cars and public transport, proving that Chemistry continues to develop.

 Chemistry A Level

2. The periodic table is one of the best known symbols of Chemistry, but it is a pretty new development. The table as we know it was invented by a Russian scientist named Dmitri Mendeleev in 1869. One of 11, 14, or 17 siblings (history can’t quite agree on the specific number).

Mendeleev was also notable for introducing the metric system to Russia and being a strong contender for “best mad scientist hair”. Unlike other attempts to create a periodic table, Mendeleev’s table allowed for gaps in the table, allowing for then undiscovered elements to be added as they were discovered. Originally, there were 56 elements detailed on the table. Today there are 118 elements listed in the table, although 4 are yet to be fully confirmed as they have only been created in a laboratory for milliseconds at a time.

Chemistry A Level

3. A Chemistry  A level is listed as a facilitating subject by the Russell group, meaning that it is one of the 8 subjects ‘most likely to be required or preferred for entry to university courses”. Studying Chemistry can give students the widest possible range of courses to study from, even for non-science degrees.

That’s because chemistry is seen as a rigorous A level that requires students to have a logical way of thinking and approaching problems – these attributes are very highly valued by further education institutions.

4. Chemistry isn’t something that has to be done in a lab – in fact there are literally hundreds of chemical reactions going on around you that you probably didn’t even realise. Cooking dinner? Chemical reaction. Catch the bus this morning? Chemical reactions. Breathing? Yep, chemical reactions! Chances are, you’re a lot more experienced in chemical reactions than you think.

If you want to carry out some fun chemical reactions, we’ve got a few for you! Try the famous diet coke and Mentos experiment – just drop a Mento or two into a bottle of diet coke and stand well back to enjoy the results. If you get in trouble for the resulting mess, just explain you were learning about nucleation sites.

5. The Nobel Prizes, some of the most prestigious international awards, were the result of a legacy left by a chemist, Alfred Nobel. Nobel, the inventor of Dynamite, was concerned with his legacy being tarnished by the violent use of his explosive invention. To counteract this, he set up a fund to distribute his considerable wealth by awarding an annual prize to most significant contribution to the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Literature, Peace and Physiology or Medicine.

Images courtesy of flickr  and Horiavarlan