When you picked up your phone or laptop to read this blog, chemical reactions occurred in your muscles that produced energy by breaking down sugar molecules. When you read the first sentence, retinal, the organic compound in your eye converts the visible light into signals. As you comprehend the above two sentences, a new connection formed in your brain with the help of organic molecules. I thank Clayden et al. (2001) for writing an inspiring organic chemistry book and linking me with chemistry. Scientists are still studying the trillions of chemical reactions that happen simultaneously in the human body. When I talk to my students about the wonders of Chemistry, they are astounded to know how much of our everyday lives depend on chemical reactions. My students share things with me too, and most recently, they shared a quote while discussing the unit of acids and alkalis, “When life becomes sour- try to neutralise it’“. They are connecting Chemistry not only to nature but to metaphorical life lessons as well.
Carbon, Oxygen, Nitrogen and Hydrogen form roughly 96% of all living organism mass, including us, human beings (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2021). There are 36 elements in the human body. Some elements are present in minuscule quantities in our body, but they are all crucial in maintaining a healthy body’s functioning. To exemplify this, roughly 0.000147g of Cobalt in vitamin B12 is essential for DNA regulation and protein formation. The CRISPR/Cas 9 gene editing system enabled scientists to make precise modifications in the long stretches of DNA, a long molecule that contains our unique genetic code. Last year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to two female scientists, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A Doudna, for CRISPR/Cas 9 gene editing system, often called “genetic scissors” (Fischman, 2020, para.2). These genetic scissors will help us in combating cancer and HIV. CRISPR/Cas 9 will help us develop medicine to treat blood disorders, heart diseases and blindness. So, as you can see, Chemistry plays a vital role in medical progress that will enhance the quality of our lives.
The most extensive, and interesting, lab in our home is the kitchen. From baking bread to making the perfect cup of tea, chemical reactions are rife and produce results that nourish and satisfy. Chemistry is indeed everywhere… it is connected to medicine, aerospace engineering, agricultural science, atmospheric science, chemical engineering, environmental science, solid-state physics, forensic studies, biochemistry, geology, and much more. Chemistry is even an essential science for achieving the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals. The world is moving towards electric vehicles, and we need Chemists to come up with better lithium-ion batteries. Chemists are trying to use Silicon to reduce overheating and thus build safe and high-performance batteries. We want better batteries for electronic devices and storing energy produced by solar cells and wind turbines. Chemistry students are now just scratching the surface of a wonderfully fascinating and ordered world – we hope they allow the magic of this science to spur them on to a genuine study and new discoveries.
Clayden, J., Greeves, N., & Warren, S. (2001). Organic Chemistry (First ed.). Oxford University Press.
Fischman, J. (2020, October 7). Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to discovery of ‘genetic scissors’ called CRISPR/Cas9. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/nobel-prize-in-chemistry-goes-to-discovery-of-genetic-scissors-called-crispr-cas911/
Royal Society of Chemistry. (2021). Challenging Medicines: Body Chemistry. Royal Society of Chemistry: https://edu.rsc.org/resources/challenging-medicines-body-chemistry/923.article
About the author:
Mahesh has been fascinated by Chemistry over the past 20 years and considers himself fortunate simply because he is able to do what he loves and made a career out of it. His goal is to make a difference in the lives of the people that are a part of my story.