Scientific Method and Chemistry Help (page 3)

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Aug 28, 2011

Atomic Theory

In 1803, Dalton began to formulate his most important contribution to science, the atomic theory . While examining the nitrogen oxides and the percentage of nitrogen found in the air, he noted the interaction of nitric oxide with oxygen. He found that the reaction seemed to occur in two different proportions with the same exact ratios:

2NO + O → N 2 O 3

NO + O → NO 2

Dalton noticed that oxygen combined with nitrogen in a ratio of 1 to 1.7 and 1 to 3.4 by weight. After testing this observation many times, he proposed the law of multiple proportions , where element weights always combine in small whole number ratios. Dalton published his initial list of atomic weights and symbols in the summer of 1803, which formally gave chemistry the vocabulary (symbol names) that we have come to know and memorize.

Moreover, Dalton’s most famous work, A New System of Chemical Philosophy, Part I , enlarged the idea that no two compound fluids have the same number of particles or the same weight. Dalton relied on his experimental and mathematical hypotheses to cobble together a previously unthinkable theory. He reasoned that atoms must combine in the simplest possible configurations in order to be consistently the same. It seemed straightforward then, to use the idea of individual atoms and particles when showing various chemical reactions.

The law of partial pressures, along with laws proposed by such scientists as Robert Boyle, Jacques Charles, and Joseph Gay-Lussac increased the growing body of scientific knowledge that believed that all components of nature such as gases, pressure, and heat were interconnected. We will discuss these laws in detail in Chapter 17.

Applied Science

Matter is the basic material of which things are made. Chemists discover new elements and further define the amazing properties of matter every day. They keep finding creative uses for compounds unknown thirty or forty years ago.

The National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA), for example, is famous for applying basic science in new ways.

NASA uses the scientific method to perform applied science. They see how something behaves in space with almost no gravity, like the formation of crystals, and then look for ways that the same application can be used in ground-based experiments. By teaming with scientists in industry, NASA improves pharmaceuticals, optics, and bioengineering devices. Research applied in this way can more quickly travel from the laboratory to the individual.

At NASA, these dual-purpose science and technology brainstorms are called spinoffs . A sampling of NASA’s Science and Technology Spinoffs is provided in Table 1.1 . NASA spinoffs include computer technology, consumer/home/recreation products, environmental and resource management, industry and manufacturing, public safety, and transportation.

Table 1.1 NASA spinoffs are applications of basic science.

* Bioreactor—a cell culture device developed at NASA-Johnson Space Center that brings a new scientific tool to cancer and virus testing without risking harm to patients. The rotating bioreactor wall allows three-dimensional growth of tissues without limiting pressure points. It has been successful in culturing over 35 cell types.

* Ultrasound Skin Damage Assessment—enables immediate assessment of burn damage depth and course of treatment.

* Low Vision Enhancement System (LVES)—provides a video scene via a system of optical mirrors that project video images onto the wearer’s retinas. The headset, worn like aviators’ goggles, helps counteract the effects of macular degeneration associated with aging, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and tunnel vision.

* Heart Rate Monitor—through the use of a thin dielectric film, this dry reusable electrode allows contact that is not affected by heat, cold, light, perspiration, or rough or oily skin. It permits precise heart rate monitoring for cardiac rehabilitation patients as well as professional athletes.

* Medical Gas Analyzer—astronaut physiological monitoring technology. When used to measure operating room anesthetic concentrations such as oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen, it ensures precise breathing environments for surgery patients.

The keys to the scientific method are curiosity and determination, observation and analysis, measurement, and conclusion. As humans, we are curious by nature. In the following chapters, you will learn how scientists satisfy their curiosity.


Practice problems for these concepts can be found at -Scientific Method Practice Test

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