Challenge! Day to Day 18


Top Veteran
Sep 13, 2016
Chemistry is very visual but one of our difficulties is that the logic of our subject is, essentially, invisible. To the eye it's all powders and liquids and tanks of gases. The molecules are so small that bacteria and even viruses are gigantic. We have so many models because atoms and molecules live in a world dominated by quantum mechanics. Ordinary language and human intuitions evolved to deal with a different version of reality, and the whole thing can be tediously boring if not taught with great enthusiasm. 🤓 Some students do enjoy the nomenclature as a game, however. The 18-Crown-6 ether cited above is formally called 1,4,7,10,13,16-hexaoxacyclooctadecane. Amusingly, the formal names of molecules express their structure. This idea is mimicked in stories of magical worlds where the true names of things give you power over them.
"a different version of reality"
The most fascinating thing is that the more we go into the regions of microcosm or macrocosm the more we realize how little we really know. And how beautiful these structures the microscopes and the astronomic lenses show us are. And the deeper we delve into it the more it makes us sit back in utter astonishment, awe and wonder. Quantum mechanics is - even if you don't understand most of it - just incredibly fascinating. And when you think of those tiny particles reacting differently when you watch them (or don't).
You just lean back and ask yourself again and again: what is reality.

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