Chemistry is one of the basic sciences. Knowledge of chemistry is indispensable for the pursuit of any of the other sciences. We need it for the study of Technology, Pharmacology, Mineralogy, and what not. It is indispensable for the study of physics, geology, biology and physiology. Hence it is a compulsory subject of study for every science student.
In the modern industrial age this importance is even more widely felt. It is needed in workshops, in laboratories, in medical clinics, on farm lands, as well as in various manufacturing processes.
It would be almost impossible to enumerate all the departments of science in which the services of the chemist are required or of uses to which this science is put. We shall indicate some of the more important ones in order to give an indication as to how indispensable it is.
The Importance of Chemistry
We are living in an age of synthetic products. The increased demand for various natural products and the fact that they may not be easily available everywhere has led to a new development in the world of chemistry. Today natural products are often created artificially by chemical processes Natural indigo has been completely superseded by equivalent synthetic dyes. Real silk manufactured front the cocoon is a costly product and is not readily obtained in all climatic conditions. This has given rise to a large industry of artificial silk called rayon or nylon or by other patented names. During the silk the occupation of the great rubber-producing country of Malaysia by the Japanese led to the development of an artificial rubber industry. Another branch full of endless possibilities is that of plastics. There is nothing that cannot be done with plastics—from clothing to buildings. These examples will give an idea of the role that chemistry will play in the new age that is coming.
- Ally of Medical: In the science of medicine, the use of chemistry is fundamental. The men who dispense the prescriptions of the physician are rightly called ‘chemists’. Chemical research goes hand in hand with medical research. Thus the development of organic chemistry has revolutionized the basis of modern medicine. The discovery, of wonder-drugs like penicillin and streptomycin, and the application of the chemistry of dyes to therapeutics have brought about incalculable benefits to humanity.
- How it helps Dietetics: The new science of vitamins has added to the importance of the chemistry of food. The war time shortage of food led to the invention of various concentrated chemical foods and helped to make up deficiencies in the quality and content of food. Of course chemical food can never replace natural food, but they form an important addition to our dietary. The science of Biochemistry indeed has developed into an important branch of Chemistry, the value of which in relation to the phenomenon of life is full of possibilities.
- As aid to agriculture: The use of chemistry for the agriculturist is also very great, Chemical fertilizers are effectively re-enforcing primitive forms of manure greatly to the enrichment of the soil. Indeed, soil chemistry is a fruitful subject of study and research, particularly in an agricultural country like India. In Russia a chemical laboratory is attached to every farm in order to carry on continuous research in fertilizers and growth-stimulants. We are also introducing harvesting laboratories to help the farmer.
- As Weapon of Destruction – The contribution of chemical science to military science involving destruction is as great as tits creative side. It has helped the large- scale production of glycerin and nitric acid and thus stimulated the manufacture of high-grade explosives in ever-increasing quantities. It has created poisonous gases which are a perpetual threat to the existence of mankind. We live every day in dread that some desperate nation, having reached the dead-end of conventional weapons, would invent some new forms of chemical warfare fraught with new risks to humanity.
The Marvels of Chemistry
The marvels of chemistry are endless. The chemist is the magician who can turn waste products into things both beautiful and useful. Thus from coal one gets coal-gas and its bye-product, coal-dyes, saccharine and many more substances. Waste products like saw-dust can be made to yield oil and acids. Marvelous indeed are the achievements of modern chemistry.