Opinion- Can the Chemical Sciences Stand Alone without a Physics Foundation? —

Does chemistry owe its existence to physics or is chemistry an independent discipline to itself? Many physicists believe that all the other sciences can be derived from Physics. To some chemists, physics and chemistry are distinct from one another— but question does not have a  complete resolution. To the late physicist, Richard Feynman, all of the sciences are derived from physics. And, if one ever gets to listen to any of his lectures, he can be rather convincing! However, there are a good four decades since his lectures were recorded. And, chemistry continues to develop. 

While physics and chemistry are rightfully a quantitative and an investigative sciences, chemistry is recognized for its creative and inventive ways. And, yes chemistry does have quite a bit in common with physics. However, it is argued that object of chemistry is the creative, craftsmanship of changing and combining of elements and molecules. It is the correct combinations that eventually lead to life and many of the molecules that we see on Earth.

Just like the alchemists, modern chemistry continues searching for a proverbial philosopher’s stone. This stone could be argued as being the commonality that links all combinations of molecules, atoms, and elements that allows for reactions to occur.

The Evidence Supporting Chemistry to be a Fundamental Science?

If there is any argument to be made for why chemistry fundamentally differs from physics— it would be mathematics and the experimentation behind it. And, it is here that we find reasons for constructing a mathematical edifice for its reactivity.

Understanding and utilizing reactivity hinges on knowing what kinds of chemicals will react to form ‘what different types of molecules.’ That descriptive aspect of chemistry is known as chemical kinetics. It utilizes a classification scheme for reactivity, its basis is how mechanistic descriptions are utilized.

Mechanistic descriptions utilize the manner by which molecules and reacting molecules orient themselves to give the most likely products. These mechanistic descriptions finally bore scientific results when experimental evidence was shown in many cases to match theoretically derived hypotheses. However, it is in the creative craft of reactions and synthesis where we may attempt to find resolution to the conundrum.

Thus, the fundamental problem of chemistry is to understand chemical changes.

Where do we find a fundamental ways  to describe chemistry without physics? –It isn’t easy…

Quantum mechanics famously explains chemistry. And to the bane of some physicists, the Uncertainty Principle asserts that electrons are a slippery slope to pin down. Finding the position of an electron does not allow one to find it’s velocity. Chemists, on the other hand, describe chemical reactions in terms of electron pushing.

And therein lies the potential solution. Describing chemical reactivity in the fundamental terms of quantum mechanics is the means to develop chemistry (without fundamental physics — mechanics, ). Don’t measure the immeasurable electron, measure atom movement spectrally. 

In the early 1980s to 1990s, experimental evidence accumulated by physical chemists showed that reaction dynamics could be pinned down with femtosecond spectroscopy. The primary developer was Dr. Ahmed Zewail

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1999. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2019. Thu. 9 May 2019. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/1999/summary/>

The recognition that atoms or reacting molecules can be measured with spectral results is now a foundation by which chemistry is fundamental.

Knowing chemical reactivity without classical physics to aid ihe descriptions is half the battle-

While it may take several generations of scientists to move the chemical sciences further into a foundational grounding without physics, it is moving slowly in that direction.

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Prejudice Comes in Many Stripes?

Many of my posts in 2018 dealt with the civil rights and the ways people  gave themselves a sense of coping and justice. Possessing the ability to tolerate hate and injustice is one of the hallmarks of inner peace and serenity. 

So, I will write and comment on the issue in the context of Border walls to the South and the injustices faced by Hispanics and others.

So, let’s start–

 

When the Christopher Columbus landed in Hispaniola in 1492 – he brought disease, death, and suffering to two continents of the Americas. While he may have believed that Catholicism could save the Indian and liberate the land for Spain, the parochial outlook of Columbus is not over emphasized.

As related in the book 1492, the Americas were a land of plenty to the original Americans. The original Americans knew how to steward the land properly. They burned acre upon acre of foliage and tree and deposited the ash into the soil. The subsequent ash enriched the soil — the Indian planted native crops and subsisted upon vegetation and bison.

The bison, to the Indian, were not as numerous as depicted in accounts by many of the early settlers. The Indian knew to not slaughter all of the bison — but enough remained, so that in subsequent seasons, new bison replaced the hunted bison.

When the first settlers came upon the virgin forests of Kentucky and the thousands of head of bison in the Ohio river valley (and beyond), they encountered an anomaly. Thousands upon thousands of Indians had lived in the Ohio river valley and in the states of Kentucky and Tennessee. They were gone– but why and how?

Popularizations of savage Indians being slaughtered by settlers tells a reckless half-truth — the Indians disappeared. Yes, they died at the hands of settlers -but not only by the gun. It was through small pox, the plague, and viral infections that settlers brought with them from Europe.

Not much is made of the fact that European horses brought small pox and the settlers brought tuberculosis, as well. These two diseases decimated the Indian populations east of the Rockies.

The settlers — in their brand of wisdom — did not realize the Indians had been on American continents for thousands of years prior to their arrival. However, the Indians possessed wisdom and not ignorance as suggested by some.

The Truth?

While the settlers utilized their own brand of wisdom garnished from experience and the Bible, the indian understood the land and the wisdom gained by working the land. Over thousands of years, the original Americans learned that they could not cruelly take and not replenish the resources of their homes. 

Presently, civilization stands at a nexus point –a crossroads where the continuation of not replenishing the land and it resources could spell extinction for some. As some who fail to understand that it is wrong to not replenish the land, they may disappear in an ironic act of karma. However, karma, for all of its irony and bitter truths, is a law of our own Earth –or how we act through our miss-perceptions of existence. Karma is chauvinistic view of our world and the Universe.

While I have as yet not found karma to be the accurate justification for losses and gains, it is humanity’s personal law of retribution and existence. Scientifically speaking, there is no physical evidence for a law of karma –only an ignorance to one’s actions and the effects of the actions taken. Thus, when some speak of karma coming to their assistance, individuals invoke propagating ignorance. And perhaps, their own extinction is at stake, as well if they’re not careful. 

 

While it may never pan out for some – what is real and true in the physical world are the laws of science- biology, physics, chemistry, and their allied fields.

 

What of Bigotry?

Well, at the roots of bigotry are hate, ignorance, and false pride; or, in certain contemporary terms, narcissism. Narcissism is an interesting term — it is bandied about in many venues. From evil-bosses and sexist chauvinists to political leaders and ex-lovers, we hear about and see a lot of it. 

This is where “change can take place” – real and unabashed change. This present age of hated, whether personal or overt, presents reasons for some to affect change.

How?- let me list a few:

  • set an example for others 
  • gently confront or correct others in their misdeeds
  • write and expose to the wider public the persons responsible
  • act in concert in a group setting — when was the last time you noticed a group of individuals act kindly and compassionately towards hate?
  • get the right authorities to act –if they exist, to enforce laws that violate basic, human rights

Bigotry can not co-exist with truth, love, and justice — they are polar opposites.

Peace-