All matter is composed of various combinations of basic elements. The wonder of chemistry is that when these basic particles are combined, they make something new and unique. Consider the element sodium. It is a soft, silvery metal. It reacts violently with water, giving off hydrogen gas and enough heat to make the hydrogen explode. Nasty ‘stuff’. Also consider chlorine, a green gas when at room temperature. It is very caustic and choking, and is nasty enough that it was used as a horrible chemical gas weapon in the last century. So what kind of horrible mess is produced when sodium and chlorine are combined? Nothing more than sodium chloride, common table salt. Table salt does not explode in water or choke us; rather, it is a common additive for foods we eat everyday.
Understanding the basic properties of matter and learning how to predict and explain how they change when they react to form new substances is what chemistry and chemists are all about. (American Chemical Society)
Garima Garg, Ph.D.
Allen Leung, Ph.D.
Instructional Lab Technician