It is hard to imagine what our life would be without the numerous developments chemistry has provided in the past and is still providing for our everyday life. Just review our ordinary daily activities for a single day, from the moment we wake up to the time when we fall asleep. What would we do without toiletries, food, clothing, footwear, window glass, electric light, TV sets, telephones, etc.? All of these and much more are created by the wonders of chemistry. The list is very long and in their absence of chemical developments, we would be in the Stone Age.
Unfortunately, society is largely ignorant about the importance of chemistry. The discoveries of chemistry should be evident in various pieces of equipment frequently used every day; in materials that make our lives easier, more comfortable, and more pleasant; medications that ease pain and prevent and cure diseases, just to mention a few. Why is the general public unaware of all this? Are all of these advantages just taken for granted assuming that they just happen to be there? Apparently most people do not think about this. Why is it so difficult for the public to realize what life in our world would be like had chemistry not brought about those numerous discoveries? One does not have to be a scientist to be logical about this if these benefits are placed in the spotlight. Unfortunately, human nature is not perfect. It is a well-known fact that a catastrophe is more likely to capture the public¡¯s attention than a happy event. It is evident that the contributions of chemistry have to be publicized in plain language without any confusing chemical terms. That made us to realize the importance of this book as a means to enlighten anyone who picks it up.
Prof. Attila Pavlath, former president of the American Chemical Society and co-editor to this publication, was very much aware of the importance of public understanding of chemistry. During his presidency in 2001, his team launched a project titled ¡°Technology Milestones from the Chemist¡¯s View¡± to disseminate the importance and application of chemistry in various fields to the public. The idea for the present book came from a paper by co-editor Prof. Choon H. Do, former President of the Korean Chemical Society, titled ¡°Public Understanding of Chemistry and Communication Programs¡± as presented at the 14th Asian Chemical Congress held in Bangkok, Thailand, in September 2011. Consequently, the publisher kindly supported the development of a book including this concept. We realized it is our job and responsibility to change the public¡¯s perception of chemistry generally referred to as the Public Image of Chemistry. Hopefully, this book will enlighten the public and will support new chemical developments for a better future. The speed of the progressing of chemistry in connection with biology, physics, and engineering and its effects becomes faster and greater than ever before and will lead to better life for future generation.
The speed of the progressing of chemistry in connection with biology, physics, and engineering and its effects becomes faster and greater than ever before and will lead to better life for future generation.
The purpose of this book is to help its readers understand and appreciate chemistry, the discipline that builds the world, drives our lives, and keeps us healthy and safe. The book also aims to help the public realize that chemical knowledge is essential for the development of society and for the betterment of their lives now and in the future, too. The book also aims to help even a non-scientific person ¡°think¡± or ¡°consider¡± questions like ¡°how, ¡± ¡°why,¡± and ¡°what¡± one can do for a better life—through chemistry.
We designed this book to lead readers into a broad range of chemistry topics in three parts divided into 14 chapters: In the first part, the book describes the relationships among chemistry and the Universe, our body, health, and our history. In the second part, consisting of eight chapters, the book describes the contributions of chemistry to the enrichment of our present life, which were made possible through the effects of chemistry in the fields of agriculture, food, energy, medicine, health, transportation, and communication. In the third part, the book describes activities for the image of chemistry, for our future, and for chemistry in Africa, where ancient developments need to be further clarified.
We tried to make this book a tool for readers to understand in clear, non-technical language the benefits of chemistry with the hope that the reader¡¯s perception of chemistry would be based on correct information and not on media hype. Also, we have made an attempt to highlight the results of the discoveries rather than how chemists accomplished them. For example, we talk about the Haber–Bosch synthesis as the tool of making possible artificial fertilizers that enabled us to feed the world, not necessarily describing in detail the experimental conditions for doing so.
We were very fortunate to be able to gather excellent chapter contributors for this book and we thank them for their contributions: Prof. Sunney Chan, Dr. Erika Godor, Dr. Dorottya Godor, Dr. Temechegn Engida, Prof. Young Ha Kim, Prof. Mary Virginia Orna, Prof. Veronika Németh, Prof. Livia Simon Sarkadi, Prof. James Wei, and Dr. Andrew Yeh.
We thank the Publishers and Directors, Mr. Stanford Chong and Ms. Jenny Rompas, for giving us the opportunity to produce this book and Mr. Arvind Kanswal for his team¡¯s professional editing. We acknowledge the permission of using many images and tables.