Chemistry is the science of energy, the properties and structure of matter, and chemical reactions. Commonly regarded as a ‘central’ science, it often links aspects of Physics with natural sciences, such as Biology and Geology. Famous chemists include the Ancient Greek philosopher Democritus, who propounded the first theory of atoms, to Alfred Nobel (best known for his eponymous peace prize), who succeeded in isolating dynamite. Chemistry used to be a rather risky endeavour: the pioneering radiologist Marie Curie, who won the Nobel Prize for both Chemistry and Physics, succumbed to aplastic anaemia caused by radiation exposure. Today, however, chemists work on various projects in generally much safer contexts, including the biotechnology, food and pharmaceuticals industries. Learning this subject at school level and beyond can thus open up myriad career paths and opportunities.
Chemistry is about the molecules that form us and surround us; it is about matter and how that matter changes. Studying chemistry allows you to learn about the nano-skeleton of everything that constitutes our physical world, and why things behave the way they do – from the rise of bread dough to the lather of dish soap, from the alchemy of perfume manufacturing to the biochemical effects of your morning cup of coffee.
In addition to being fundamental in our daily lives, chemistry is a fundamental subject in science. Chemistry is often called the ‘central science’ because a firm knowledge of this subject is essential for the in-depth study of most other areas of science, and it overlaps with biology, medicine, physics engineering, geology and earth sciences. Because of this, gaining qualifications in chemistry – whether at school or university level – can open up many doors to different careers and diverse opportunities in science. In fact, chemistry is a core subject and a prerequisite for many university degrees such as medicine, engineering and natural sciences.