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What Are The Contribution Of Chemistry In The Society?

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Tony Fyler Profile
Tony Fyler answered
The contributions of chemistry to society are vast and almost numberless. An in-exhaustive list would include:
  • Vaccines
  • Food safety practices
  • Treatment programs for diseases
  • Diagnostic tools in healthcare
  • Plastics
  • Synthetic fibers
  • An understanding of oil
  • Cosmetics and cleaners.
Vaccines and immunization were first popularized in the 1770s by Edward Jenner, who took pus from the hand of a victim of cowpox, and used it to protect people from the much more serious smallpox. Jenner was hailed as having stumbled onto something amazing, and the era of modern vaccines began. Without exactly understanding the chemistry - or indeed the biology - behind his discovery, Jenner had helped launch a revolution in chemistry that continues today with the development of vaccines for the dread diseases of our age, like Swine Flu.

An understanding of chemistry was also key to the development of modern food health and hygiene practices. By understanding the actions of microbes on the human body, these practices have helped eliminate other dread diseases in the Western world, such as dysentery and cholera, as well as many types of food poisoning.

Similarly, to Jenner's vaccines, understanding the chemistry of modern diseases is the key to the ongoing battle against conditions like cancer, AIDS and the common cold. By understanding the chemistry of how, say, cancer cells do what they do inside a human body, we have been able to devise treatments that can in some cases kill the disease, or at least provide an effective treatment regime. Diagnostic tools like dyes, that show up only certain times of tissue on ultrasound readers are also the result of chemical marking processes.

Chemistry was at the heart of understanding, that a chemical sludge pumped from underground had combustible properties that could drive an engine - so without an appreciation of chemistry, your car wouldn't start. Ironically, chemistry is also now at the forefront, of the search for alternative ways to drive car engines without leaving the ecologically harmful residues that current engines do.

From oil comes plastics - but only if you understand how to make them, which means, altering the chemical structure of the oil and processing it to synthesize the plastic out of which half of our modern world appears to be made. Likewise, synthetic fibers are called synthetic because they've been developed by chemists to behave in certain ways - without chemistry, there would be no lycra.

Also, in the modern age, as we have become more fastidious about cleanliness and our appearance, we have developed huge industries dedicated to the development of cosmetics and cleansers - all of which are mixtures of chemicals (either naturally or synthetically produced), that have been blended to give us the effects we want without causing us any harm. Likewise, our quest for cleanliness has led us to develop surface cleaners, which are mixtures of entirely different chemicals that will destroy bacteria - and again, our knowledge of chemistry has both advised us of the threat, and helped us master it.

This list is by no means complete - chemistry has had a part in practically every facet of the modern world - but without chemistry, it should be clear that the world we live in, would look very different.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
Medicine, the chemicals needed to make water safe to drink, agriculture- fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides. Products- metals, plastics, synthetic fibers, fuels, detergents, enzymes, dyes, paints, chemicals used in food processing.

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