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Chemistry Basics Introduction

In A Nutshell

Welcome to chemistry—world of elements, reactions, matter, balls, and sticks. Oh, and chemistry cat. Check all your preconceived fears about chemistry at the door; it's awesome and everyone's using it. Biologists use it. Physicists use it. Even engineers use it. Learning how atoms interact has allowed people to view the world in a totally new way, so be prepared to be amazed.

What's the Matter? No, Not with You.

In this introduction, we will start by examining matter: how scientists describe and classify it. We will check out a small unit of matter called the atom. Get ready to take a smaller than nano view of the world...which is smaller than any iPod, we promise. We'll briefly look at the periodic table—a chemist's favorite chart. Finally, we will start to explore chemical reactions, which are a result of atoms recombining in different ways. Are you ready to jump into chemistry?

The correct answer, by the way, is yes. Here are a couple videos for your entertainment:

  • Watch sugar and sulfuric acid react to form what chemists affectionately know as a black "carbon snake."

  • Watch this poor gummy bear give his life so that we can marvel at what happens when the sugar in a gummy bear violently reacts with oxygen gas. (The gas in the video is produced by decomposing a chemical compound called potassium chlorate.)

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