What are the Stages of Chemistry?

Alexander Pearson

The historical stages of chemistry They can be divided into primitive, Greek, alchemist, renaissance, pre-modern, and modern. In its attempt to understand the energy that moves the world, humanity concentrated on matter to investigate what it is made of and how it reacts under various conditions..

Thanks to the instinct of conservation and later using the tools of the scientific method, from observation and even creating universal laws, chemistry was developed.

From prehistory to modernity, various curious and researchers provided insights for the development of an exciting hobby that soon became science.

Major stages of chemistry

Primitive stage 

In prehistory, the struggle for survival led man to the discovery of fire. In this natural find the origin of chemistry is located, evidently manifesting the transformation of matter.

About 2,000 years BC, in China, products were produced that make deduce the use of chemistry; the elaboration of artificial silk, gunpowder and porcelain undoubtedly required the fusion of various elements.

In the same way, in Egypt, elements used for religious rituals worked in metal were elaborated, paints were used, pottery was developed, fabrics were made and it was possible to evidence the use of glass.

A little later, in the era of bronze, this and other metals such as iron were used.

Greek stage

Between the years 650 and 350 a.c. chemistry developed in Greece. Although it was Democritus and Aristotle who first approached it, it was Empedocles who affirmed that matter did not have a single unit but was actually made up of four elements: earth, air, water and fire..

The study of chemistry during this period took place at a theoretical level, speaking between the positions of those who affirmed that matter was the same unit, which was presented continuously, and those who defended an atomic conception presenting, among others, the ether as an element in which another type of matter resided.

Thanks to the material compiled in the library of Alexandria, it was possible to transmit knowledge from east to west on theorization regarding chemistry.

Alchemist stage: 350 BC to 1500 AD.

This time is fraught with secrecy. Chemistry continued to develop with the illusion of humanity in search of the philosopher's stone, a substance capable of turning any metal into gold..

Alchemy began in ancient Egypt and spread to the Persian Empire, Mesopotamia, China, Arabia and the Roman territory. Contrary to the Greek period, during the stage of alchemy theory was on the sidelines since all efforts were concentrated on experimentation.

Although the desired substance was never achieved, the alchemists inherited important laboratory techniques to the world, such as the separation of elements and the processes of distillation..

Renaissance stage

Without leaving experimentation, the rebirth conditioned knowledge to the use of reason. It was not just a matter of observing the transformations of matter but asking why the chemical reactions.

During this period metallurgy and mainly pharmacology developed. Parecelso, a Swiss doctor, created iatrochemistry, which consisted of using chemistry to obtain medicines of mineral origin, as opposed to medicines of plant origin.

Paracelsus believed that disease was caused by a chemical absence and to heal it was necessary to use chemicals.

Premodern stage. The Phlogiston Theory: A.D. 1660-1770.

Created by George Stahl, the phlogiston theory was intended to give a scientific answer to the phenomenon of fire.

He studied the caloric phenomena that came into play in the combustion of metals, the release of heat, the transformation of materials into ashes and the appearance of fire with its changes in shapes and colors.

The element that was released during the fire was called phlogiston and it was believed that it went into the atmosphere and although it was an erroneous theory it was maintained during the 18th century; However, this theory left advances in techniques and a large number of experiments..

The development of chemistry went through the study of the nature of gases also in this period. It is right here when the popular phrase comes to life: "matter is neither created nor destroyed, it only transforms".

The demonstration of the existence of atmospheric pressure occurred during this stage and the Irishman Robert Boyle had a lot to do with it, who studied the pressure and volume relationship of a gas.

Stephne Halls for his part invented the pneumatic tank and showed that it was possible to collect gases; Thanks to this discovery, the gases released in a reaction were collected in water and thus it was possible to study them..

Modernity: 1770 to the present

During the 18th and 19th centuries, scientists concentrated on the reactions of matter measured with quantitative techniques..

Laws such as Lavoiser's Law of Conservation of Mass, Dalton's Law of Multiple Proportions, and Proust's Law of Definite Proportions were created. The atom was shown to be real and its weight could be determined.

Antoine Laivosier was considered the creator of modern chemistry; Among other findings, he showed that water was composed of hydrogen and oxygen and refuted the Phlogiston theory with the oxidation theory that explained the processes of combustion, respiration and calcination..

In modern times, the works of Amadeo Avogadro with studies on molecules and gases, Friedrich Whöler with the synthesis of Urea, Meyer and Mendeleiv with the periodic table and August Kekulé with the tetravalence of Carbon and the structure of Benzene, among others, were recognized..

Alessandro Giuseppe Volta made a battery by means of which an electric current was obtained; by deducing that matter had an electrical nature, research on electrochemical reactions became popular.

During the middle of the 19th century, the study of thermochemistry began, that is, heat processes involved in physical reactions..

Modernity also brought with it the study of atomic weight and molecular weight, and Mendeleev's Periodic Law of Chemical Elements..


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