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   to Chemistry, Matter and the Universe

In his Voices of Silence, Malraux characterizes modern books of art reproductions as "Museums without Walls," lifting the observer out of the confines of any one museum and showing him the entire world of art. In the same spirit, this book attempts to combine text and illustrations to remove chemistry from the laboratory and present "Chemistry without Walls." The proper setting for the study of chemistry is the entire material universe, living and non-living, and this is the motivation behind the writing of this book.

Chemistry sometimes is taught as a laboratory-oriented science, in which a practitioner at the bench adds one substance to another, and precipitates a third substance that subsequently is analyzed or used. Chemistry then becomes narrowed down to an intellectual exercise carried out by human beings. This is one aspect of the subject, it is true, but it bears the same relationship to the chemistry of this book as and exercise machine does to bicycle touring. Everything is chemistry. There is no change that occurs in our material universe that does not involve chemical processes. At one extreme, nuclear reactions can be described in chemical terms if proper account is taken of the conversion of mass to energy. At the other extreme, the activities of living organisms have their foundations in chemical processes. One of the most exciting future areas for study will be that of discovering in more detail how chemical reactions lead to the observed behavior of living organisms, and how these complex, living chemical systems evolved on our planet (and perhaps others).


'The text in this chapter is taken directly from the original preface in the book "Chemistry, Matter and the Universe" by Richard E. Dickerson and Irving Geis. On these Web pages we have attempted to take their vision to another level, by bringing Geis's original illustrations to life through the use of sound, animation and user interaction.'



'A note on Spelling: The original text in "Chemistry, Matter and the Universe" uses the U.S. spelling of words such as color and behavior. For the sake of consistency, these words have been left unaltered throughout the majority of this web-based course.'

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