Just like Olympic judges, chemists have established a set of attributes that describe perfection so that we measure everything else relative to an impossible standard. The Ideal Gas is purely hypothetical; consisting of identical particles of zero volume with no intermolecular forces. This approach struck me as arrogant until I understood that Gas Laws that followed:
1. Graham’s Law: rate of movement is proportional to mass
2. Dalton’s Law: total pressure is the sum of individual pressures
3. Boyle’s Law: volume varies with pressure (at constant temperature)
4. Charles’s Law: volume varies with temperature (at constant pressure).
The early chemists weren’t just Photoshopping. By imagining perfection, they found a way to describe reality.
The reality of my upcoming exam pushed me to finish the final chapter which was Organic Chemistry, the study of compounds that contain carbon. These compounds are deemed ‘organic’ because carbon was originally obtained from the remains of living things, like coal. The carbon atom of today is the backbone of thousands of compounds that keep us warm, healthy, clothed, and together. Travel and romance would be nothing without carbon.
What makes carbon great is its four outer electrons that are able to form single, double, and even triple bonds. And bond it does, creating almost endless chains of molecules that are used to make fuel, medicine, textiles, and adhesives. The same atom is responsible for the diamonds in my wedding band and the gasoline in my car.
Maybe perfection and greatness are closer than I imagined.
Next up: The Last Lap