Method development and validation is a tricky thing, especially when it comes to chemistry. Especially in today’s world, as it grows ever faster and more complicated, it becomes necessary to validate and prove various experiments while at the same time producing positive results that other scientists can also prove and reprove. From laser diffraction testing to mercury porosimetry testing, it’s all becoming increasingly interconnected. But with all of these new techniques, from particle size analysis to other various analytical methods in research, it pays to stop for a second and think about where all this came from. How did we arrive at our basic chemical schema for the world, the one that most of us take for granted today? Even non educated or non interested people know that the world is made of certain compounds which are made of molecules which are made of atoms. That much is known by most societies and most peoples everywhere all over the world. But even that fact is kind of astounding when you think about it. How did most stable and even non stable countries end up learning all of that and teaching their people? Well the answer lies back. Far back. Before method development and validation. Before microscopes. Before we know most of what we know about the world today.
- The world before atomic theory
We often given credit to the Greeks for being the first ones to posit atomic theory but there’s proof that other societies and groups of the time had just as much knowledge and had developed theories of their own. The Chinese and the Phoenicians, for example, had their own ideas about the makeup of the world and what constituted the land and air they lived upon. Some of these ideas, Chinese, Greek or otherwise, were found out to very wrong very quickly. Some stuck on for ages afterward, influencing scientific thought. A handful were actually pretty accurate and are considered positive models for the atomic theories that would arise later in the twentieth century. One such Greek theory posited that the world was made of small, indivisible particles that could not be separated or parsed in any way. These were called atomos and were thought to be the building blocks of land, air, water and fire. While not exactly accurate, it was true enough to be remembered with some fondness and affection centuries later.
The rise of the divine and chemistry in a general sense
Method development and validation was still centuries away in the European middle ages and Chinese high ages but it was getting closer and people were beginning to think about the world in new ways. For instance, in Europe, people were beginning to explore the world in a way that was thought to be closer to the Christian’s god own providence. The researchers of this time thought that they could understand the makeup of the world and thus get closer to god’s infinite plan through this effort. In other parts of the world like China, basic chemical reactions were being observed that would change the way they conducted civilization and business. Gunpowder is one of the most famous chemicals in this historical vein although there were others. Gradually, this way of thinking gave over to the enlightenment and colonial times, where these new discoveries were used to explore and, usually for ill, take over and colonize different countries. They were put into practice into the actual world which was in itself a process that took hundreds of years. It was near the end of this that the actual first table of elements was developed and finalized, thus cementing modern chemistry as a field of study.
Science makes its way forward
A few hundred years saw the death of alchemy and the rise of chemistry from its ashes but what now? Now that we have method development and validation and all of science, what do we do with it? We work harder than ever and we stay safe, that’s what. We now understand the effect societies have on the planet. We use our power to save nature and ourselves and make a global civilization to be proud of.