What do you think of Atkins’ claim that the study of matter was inspired by human greed? I think that it is very true that the foundation of chemistry has come to existence from greed. Greed for immortality and wealth. Alchemists believed that you could live forever, so this search for immortality has lead to the basis of chemistry. Though what I wonder is that there must be some reason why the alchemists thought of immortality, I wonder what provoked them to think so?
What significance does Atkins attribute to the balance?
As stated in the introduction, this is the biggest or most clear difference between Alchemy and Chemistry. The number of atoms, how many atoms of each type, the placement of the atoms…all these specific things is the improvement in chemistry.
Why do you think he suggests the balance shifted the study of matter from a mysterious and somewhat magical system to a scientific one?
Alchemy was a bit blurry. Alchemy was like solving a math problem without numbers. With this balance and chemistry, you are solving a math problem with numbers and getting accurate answers. This accuracy turned the magic into science
What do you think is the completing thought that follows the sentence at the end of this page? (“Weighing matter before and after it had undergone transformation from one substance to another led to the principal concept that underlies all explanations in chemistry:”)
What do you think the “principal concept” is?
The number of atoms you use to make a molecule is the principle concept of chemistry. Also the conservation of mass.
Without the specific number of atoms, you can’t create the molecules. You can’t keep experimenting each time, you need exact numbers. You need to know how much hydrogen and oxygen you need to make water.
Also, Hydrogen and Oxygen are gases, and when you mix them, you get the liquid water. Turning the gas into a liquid is a key as well. It is called conservation of mass. Chemicals and atoms can transform stuff. Chemical reactions can’t create or destroy mass, it can only transform mass.